Saturday, April 12, 2014

Environmental Risk Perception Paper

          Steg (2013), “environmental changes, pollution and technologies bear the possibility of harmful and long-lasting consequences for both humans and nature” (p. 16). These types of changes are environmental risks. Every individual differs from another individual by the means in which they perceive such risks, and how they believe these risks affect them. Therefore, an individual’s beliefs concerning an environmental risk may influence his or her risk perceptions. Risk perceptions are the subjective judgments concerning the risk associated with a certain technology, event, or activity (Steg, 2013). Also, different aspects such as values, ethics, and morals may influence perceived environmental risk. Environmental risks can also affect individuals’ emotionally and can stimulate unwanted stress, in regard to the effects of these risks on humans and nature.
          One such environmental risk in particular is global warming; which occurs when the average temperature of the Earth’s oceans and atmosphere gradually increases. The increase in temperatures, in the oceans and atmosphere are permanent temperature changes that are a result of releasing vast amounts of carbon dioxide (CO2) into the atmosphere from the continual use of fossil fuels. These possess a risk to the well-being of humans and nature alike. There are not any means of reversing the effects of global warming; however, said effects can decrease.
Summary of Articles
          Two articles of interest address the environmental risk known as global warming; however, these articles take differing stances on this issue and have dissimilar views regarding this environmental risk. The article “Global Warming” takes a stand in support of the issue of global warming; that is, it details how this environmental risk is a threat to humans and nature alike. This article also addresses related environmental stressors that are a result of the environmental risk of global warming. The article “Global Warming: the Good, the Bad, the Ugly and the Efficient” takes a stand in belief of global warming as well; however, it mainly details the possible benefits of the issue of global warming. That is, it details how this environmental risk is a not a particular threat to humans and nature, but a possible benefit for both. The article addresses how the environmental risk of global warming is rather a benefit for certain areas of the world and the related environmental stressors associated with this environmental risk will become less stressing because of a warming climate.
Comparing and Contrasting Risk Perceptions
          In the article “Global Warming,” risk perceptions take a valued, ethical or moral position in regard to global warming. In this article risk perceptions associated with global warming lean toward concerns of not only gradual climbs in average temperatures, but also toward the intensity and frequency of excessive climatic events that may occur (Patz, 2004). While, in the article “Global Warming: the Good, the Bad, the Ugly and the Efficient,” risk perceptions are indeed subjective at best. As a result of this article not necessarily determining global warming as intrinsically bad or as an environmental risk, but more so as an inevitable occurrence with minimal risk to humans. In this article, global warming is rather an occurrence that can produce ideal living and warmer weather conditions for certain areas of the world. This article determines that warmer weather will result in decreased use of energy consumptions because of such warmer weather; therefore, leading to decreased use and need of fossil fuels.
          Also, this article views the increased release of CO2 in the atmosphere along with warmer weather as a benefit for fostering plant growth; which creates a greener planet. This article seems to overestimate the small frequencies and underestimate the larger frequencies in regards to the effects of global warming on the environment. The risk perceptions of these two articles have do not share any forms of comparison and are rather contradictory of one another.  
Environmental Stressors Related to the Environmental Risk
          Environmental stressors are physical characteristics of individuals' environments that cause stress for them (Steg, 2013). Environmental stressors can either be chronic or acute. When environmental stressors are chronic, such stressors are more consequential for individuals. This occurs when individuals lack the ability to end or escape from environmental stressors. In the article “Global Warming,” it acknowledges that several environmental stressors occur as a result of global warming. The article “Global Warming: the Good, the Bad, the Ugly and the Efficient,” does acknowledge that global warming occurs but undermines the environmental stressors related to this environmental risk. Moore (2008), “global climate change has been portrayed largely as an unmitigated catastrophe for humans and the environment but, in reality, the topic is more nuanced” (p. 1).
          However, there are numerous environmental stressors related to global warming. Such environmental stressors include occurrences and extensions of weather anomalies such as increasingly warm temperatures, heat waves, severe droughts, floods, and storms. Other environmental stressors include pollution effects such as smog, and extensions of fog formations. These are several examples of environmental stressors related to global warming; however, as time passes by more environmental stressors may develop in relation to the long-term effects of global warming. Also, these environmental stressors pose risks to and are detrimental to individuals’ physical and psychological well-being.
          Steg (2013), “risk perception refers to people’s subjective judgment about the risk that is associated with some activity, event or technology” (p. 17). I find myself to be an individual rather low on traditional values and high on altruism; therefore, I indeed have a tendency to perceive a global environmental risk, such as global warming (Steg, 2013). This is because my risk perception in regard to global warming is driven by my values and moral or ethical positions (Steg, 2013). Many aspects of the environment I indeed believe have an inherent value and deserve a level of respect because the environment, especially the natural environment provides life and fosters life inherently. I am an individual that will not trade-off the value the environment for any price, and behaviors that foster global warming indeed lead to negative affective reactions for me. In regard to my moral and ethical positions, I do not deem a behavior that fosters global warming as either ethically or morally correct. Global warming is indeed an environmental risk that sparks a risk perception because the behaviors that foster such an environmental risk devalue the environment and are unethical and immoral.
Steg, L. (2013). Environmental psychology: An introduction. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley-Blackwell.
Patz, J. (2004). Global warming. BMJ (Clinical Research Ed.), 328(7451), 1269-1270.
Moore, T. (2008). Global warming. The good, the bad, the ugly and the efficient. EMBO Reports, 9 Suppl 1S41-S45. doi:10.1038/embor.2008.53

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