Environmental Communication

Env Comm
Has a purpose. Trying to accomplish something. Alerts, verbal, direct, straight-forward.
Representations values and perceptions.
Environmental Communication
The pragmatic and constitutive vehicle for our understanding of the environment as well as our relationships to the natural world. It is the symbolic medium that we use in constructing environmental problems and negotiating societies different responses to them.
Four Uses of the Tree Hugger Label
Reduction to absurdity, Self identifier, descriptor of others, moderating device.
Premise from the "Seeking to Save the Planet" article
The premise is rephrasing negative connotation, politically charged words and saying words that are more meaningful and impactful.
3 Factors that form our environmental belief system
childhood experience
sense of place
historical context
Types of nature experiences for children
Direct Experience: unrestricted free play, nothing is planned.
Indirect Experiences: Planned, set-up
Symbolic: T.V. no physical experience
Research indicators regarding time spent in nature
less time outdoors
just in neighborhood, restricted play range
structured play time
Natural world is ranked hierarchically with humans on top.
Natrual resources exist to serve human welfare.
Humans are separate from nature
Non-hierarchical mix of interdependent relationships.
No single species rules.
Humans are interdependent parts of the biological world.
Where do general Americans fall on the ideology spectrum?
unrestrained utilitarian
Definition of transformative ideologies. Why is this group is considered different from the rest?
Transformative ideologies question the dominant environmental ideologies.
It calls for extensive social change Reformist environmental ideologies are inadequate to salvage the environmental life on the planent
It is considered radical - meaning it goes to the root to discover what affects somethings fundamental origins
Environmental Concern
Gender: Women
Age: Younger
Education level: Higher
Environmental Knowledge
1. Environmental awareness: 50-70% of Americans have heard of most environmental subjects. Limited lasting effect. Contributions of support for government action. 2. Personal Conduct Knowledge: limited combination of awareness and action. They take personal action and it is a one-step connection. 3. Environmental Literacy (depth of knowledge).
New Ecological Paradigm Scale
5 Facets of worldview:
Limits to growth
Fragility of nature's balance
Rejection of exemptionism (humans separate from nature)
Possibility of an eco-crisis
Environmental concern- public trends, top concerns, economic concern comparisons, over time
1970s - 1990s: Environmental laws did not go far enough. 72% thought they saw themselves as environmentalists.
2008-2009: Environmentalist priority went down - economy crash. Environment > economic until 2008 (first time in 2 decades)
Bottom line: Less worried about environment than in last 20 years

Problem defining the environment—make sure everyone is answering the same question
2 components of environmental concern: environmental component and concern component
Concern components: policy, cognition (knowledge) effective (attitudinal), behavior (are you actually doing it because your concern)
· The new ecological paradigm scale measures 5 facets of worldview
· Limits on growth
· Anti-anthropocentrism
· frailty of the nature's balance
· Rejection of exemptionism (humans separate from nature)
· Possibility of an eco-crisis
· It's a 15 question scale; likert scale
· Measures near 15 pt is more anthropocentric, near 75 is more eco-centric
Environmental literacy
Overall awareness of simple environmental topics is reasonably high nation wide; but understanding in comprehension of more complex topics is very shallow. 1-2% of adults only
Environmental myths
In 7/10 multiple choice questions the myth answer was selected the most
· At best 41% got the correct answer; at worst 9%
· Leading cause of entanglement
· Leading cause of death world wide à exposure to contaminated water
· Most common source of water pollution (these are just some of the myths)
Myths and the media
Vivid images burned on the collective mind: one of the reasons why people might say oil spills are the caused mostly by corporations due to the images generated when oil spills happen (think of BP oil spill)
· Persuasive, powerful consumer campaigns: these issues (such as banning the CFCs in aerosol cans) were campaigned nation wide so it stuck in people's memories; and some people don't know the exact solution.
· Visible public debates that go unresolved: Yucca mountain; or gas mileage that the MPGS have gone down.
· Time honored heroic effects: people might think that the hydroelectric power is the number one source of energy due to the hoover dam being built and all the media coverage on that.
· What the pubic thinks they know
· 70% of Americans claim to know a lot/ a fair amount; yet only 32% passed
Terminology Disconnect
A lot of people don't understand the meanings of words that are used in the discussion of the environment. Ie- think of all the terms used in the environmental sciences; thus its important to get rid of jargoning terms, you have to make it for the 8th grade level.
Chronic "Causal Disconnect"
people acknowledge the problem but don't understand what's causing the environmental problems to take place. People only understand one point cause and effect; but multi-step causal relationships make it difficult to comprehend; thus you have to explain each step and show how they are related.
The Fatal Five
1.Reading the slides
2. Too much Information
3.Lack of Interaction
4. Lifeless presenter
5. Room technical problems
The Golden 7
1. Clarity
5. Relevance
6. Use of stories
7. Well Produced Visuals
Steps in the communication cycle
Communication Cycle: Sender - > Message -> translation -> Receiver -> Filter -> Feedback -> Sender (repeats)
Importance of themes/thesis statements
Main point
The one thing you want your audience to remember
Structure the whole presentation around
Two types of relevance and why they are Important
Meaningful- Connect to what the audience knows about
• Examples
• Analogies
• Stories
• Visual aids
• Comparisons
• Practical Applications
• Connect to current events
• Connect to universal concepts
Personal- Connecting to what the audiences cares about
• Self-Referencing
• Labeling- Include your entire audience
• Personal pronouns- YOU,WE,US,OUR
• Find common ground
Description of Six America's and trends
Alarmed: 12% - are fully convinced of the reality and seriousness of climate change and are already taking individual, consumer, and political action to address it.
Concerned:27%- Less likely to voice, take action, worried about impacts. More concerned with human rights issues etc.
Cautious: 25%- Not well read of Global Warming. They do not see the impacts in their lives.
Disengaged: 10%- Most likely to say "idk". Do not see the impact for 30 years
doubtful: 15%- Unlikely to change their minds
dismissive : 10% - "Global warming is not happening. Not human caused- it is natural"
Natural world is ranked hierarchically with humans at the top
Natural resources exist to serve human welfare.
Humans are separate from nature.
Think of a pyramid with humans at the top and the rest of the natural world below
Ecocentric (biocentric)
A nonhierarchical mix of interdependence relationships (web of all life)
No single species (such as humans) rules.
Humans are an interdependent, integral part of the biological world but are no more or no less important than any other.
All living and nonliving elements of the world are intrinsically valuable and important.
Think of a circle with humans included as just one of many in a living and nonliving system.
Unrestrained Instrumentalism
The natural world and all its resources exist solely for human use.
Use of natural resources does not need to be restrained or limited in any way.
Natural resources are used with only immediate human wants and desires in mind.
Most human centered and anti-environmental of all ideologies
Conserving resources for humans to use and enjoy for reasons that go beyond instrumental value, to also include scientific, ecological, aesthetic, and religious worth.
Recognizes that there should be some restraints on use of natural resources.
Goal is to use resources in a way that does not deplete or permanently damage them.
Characterized by "wise use" of resources
Belief that the country's resources should used wisely, " for their greatest good for the greatest number of humans." Gifford Pinchot
Nonhuman entities are only valuable in terms of potential for human use.
Describes much of the hundred-plus year history of the environmental social movement.
Constitutes what most Americans consider environmentalism.
A reformist rather than radical ideology. It requires no drastic reformulating of institutions (political, social, economic, cultural) within the existing system.
Sustainable development: development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs- goes beyond sustainability in terms of food, water, shelter and ties sustainability with continued economic growth and trade.
Ethics and Values-Driven Ideologies
1. Animal Rights
2. Land Based Ethics
Transformative Ideologies
Questions the dominant environmental ideologies and call for extensive social change.
Claim that reformist environmental ideologies (conservation, preservation, values-driven) are inadequate to salvage the environmental life on the planet.
Are considered radical- meaning going to the root to discover what affects something's fundamental origins. In this case seeks to find the root causes of humans' current relationship with the natural world, such as systems of domination and exploitation.

1. Ecological Sensibility
2. Deep Ecology
3. Social Ecology
4. Ecofeminism
5. Native American Ideologies
6. Eastern Traditions
Ideologies and Environmental Communication
Although distinctions between ideologies may seem minor, the differences are tremendous and call for very different ways of relating to and communicating about the natural world.
· Nearly all environmental communication includes messages only from the anthropocentric side of the spectrum.
· Our dominant social paradigm (which is a form of environmental communication)- and the laws and regulations that come from it- is designed to accommodate viewpoints on the anthropocentric end and is poorly equipped to understand other ideologies and ways of relating to the natural world.
· Knowledge of environmental ideologies is a prerequisite for understanding where environmental messages are coming from.
· You can typify organizations and laws by ideology
o BLM- Conservation
o PETA- Animal Rights (Ethics and Values Driven)
o Earth First- Deep Ecology
o National Park Service- Preservation
o Sierra Club- Preservation or Land Based Ethics (Explore, enjoy, and protect the planet)
· What people lump together as environmentalism is really a wide spread spectrum of ideologies with most people having a fairly anthropocentric and reformist (rather than radical) ideology.
Challenges to making a radical shift in Ideology
Dominant social paradigm is human centered.
· We cannot escape anthropocentric ideology because we are humans and cannot remove the human face from our perspective.
o Even countries with eastern philosophies plunder the earth
· Pure forms of ecocentric ideology are no longer open to us given the current state of global technology and culture.
· People's belief systems may inform and guide behavior, but may not be entirely consistent with it. The reason for the disconnect may be at the:
o Individual level- I may believe all beings are valuable, but my words and actions contradict that.
o Cultural level- difficult to fully act upon an ideology that differs from the dominant ideology of a particular culture. The existing social structure work as social controls upon individual choice and action- consider religious doctrines that shape or restrict actions and beliefs. Consider legal system which determines laws that may conflict with ideology (killing an endangered species).
Animal Rights
• Most concerned with the human animal relationship and that the current "species-ism" holds that humans are somehow superior in their sentience than other animal species.
• Values sentient beings without placing value on the ecosystems that support them.
• Involved moral extentionism because humans still decide which animals are more valued than others.
• It is reductionist because it focuses on saving individual animals or species, but not ecosystems or communities.
Land Based Ethics
• Human actions should not damage the "holistic integrity" and healthy functioning of entire ecosystems.
• Broadens criteria of sentience to include all elements that are part of a biotic community and contributes to its functioning.
• Must possess cell-based life- including plants, lichens, and living elements of the soil.
• Grants intrinsic value to all biological life- plants, species (not just individual animals) gene pools, minerals, water, and entire ecosystems and communities.
• Recognition of "telos." That these elements have a capacity for internal self direction and self regulation.
• It recognizes that an essential feature of living systems is to continually produce and sustain themselves, their activities, and their structures.
• The entire non human world is autonomous in its potential to unfold
• Shift from humans as integral to humans as nonessential in the functioning of the natural worlds.
• Fails to connect human beliefs about the world to systems of power that could change our relationship to the natural world.
Ecological Sensibility
• Integrates intrinsic value with systems of land management.
• "theory of value" recognized intrinsic value without moral extensionism
• "cluster principle" when making decisions should consider diversity, complexity, integrity, harmony, stability, and scarcity. EX: Nature Conservancy chooses which lands to purchase based on whether it will optimize cluster values.
• Values relationships as well as individuals.
• Ethically principles
o Noninterference with natural processes
o Resistance to human acts and policies that violate noninterference
o Limited intervention to repair environmental damage in extreme circumstances.
o Cohabitation that promotes the knowledgeable, respectful, and restrained use of nature.
Deep Ecology
• Recognition that all life on earth possesses equal intrinsic value, value that exists independently of human needs and desires. Biocentric equality
• Humans have no right to reduce the diversity and richness of the natural world with the exception of satisfying vital needs.
• Decrease in human population is necessary for human life and nonhuman life to flourish.
• Each individual has an obligation to implement the necessary changes.
• Individuals self actualize or are enlightened to see themselves as part of something larger and see the interrelatedness of all life.
• Earth First is a direct action branch of deep ecology
• Limits: relies on rights granted to individuals without focus on larger biotic communities.
• Limits: Rights remain focused on the individual and within the legal system with no real recognition of the privileged position of some to hold power over others.
Social Ecology
• inherent contradiction within capitalism: every increasing production and limited natural resources.
• Capitalism is responsible for the externalization of social and economic costs meaning that costs to health, quality of life, environment, ruptured social and family structures is not built into cost of goods or borne by the producer.
Hierarchy in capitalism and overall social structure
• Radically transform social system and put an end to hierarchy within it.
• Nonhierarchical, egalitarian relationships between humans and nature.
• Calls for decentralization, alternative technology, and a fairly libertarian form of governance, direct democracy, and direct action for social change.
• Limit: idealistic in that it promotes harmonious freedom.
• Feminism is about valuing the female and what is feminine and promotes equality for woman in political, economic, and social institutions.
• Oppression of women and nonhuman nature are interconnected part of the same dynamic- anthrocentricism (male centeredness).
• Patriarchy is embedded in daily life within al dominant social structures and is used to dominate woman and nature.
• Differences between genders and species should be honored equally.
• Social change must address the systems of power and domination and how they subdue and dominate the natural world.
• Limit: what if emancipation of woman does not lead to emancipation of nature?
• Limit: Essentialism holds that biologically females are closer to nature than man. There are innate qualities of being female that make females closer to nature.
Native American Ideologies
• Belief in a living planet- the entire earth is alive including rocks, air, minerals.
• Humans hold a reciprocal and equal relationship with everything on earth and this governs how they treat the earth, how they treat each other, how they govern themselves and view power, and the subsistence economics they practice.
• Rarely distinguish between secular and religious life.
• Universal symbol of the circle- representing interdependence and connectedness.
• Panthesism- god is identifiable with the forces of nature.
• Animals have flesh bodies, but live in the spirit world.
• Land is literally a part of them- their self identity is interwoven with the land.
• Limit: Indian way of life could not support human population today.
Eastern Traditions
• Connectedness and continuity-all beings are organically connected. Nature is seen as an all enfolding harmony of cosmos. The spirit and matter are undifferentiated parts of the whole (Chinese chi). There is life force in everything and it is connected to us
• Emotional Engagement- Intimate knowing and emotional engagement with the natural world is essential for knowing oneself and other.
• Interdependence- Since everything is organically connected there can be no hierarchy with humans on top.
Anthropocentric - Ecocentric Spectrum
Unrestrained Instrumentalism - - Conservationism -- Preservationism -- Ethics and Values Driven Ideologies -- Transformative Ideologies
Five Glimmers of Hope
1. Dialogue
2. More time to prepare
3. Speaker confidence
4. Compelling Visuals
5. Better organization
Three Weakest Factors
Social Class
Political Ideology