Yes, environmental protection can definitely be about empathy.
We often associate empathy with understanding and caring for other people. And of course, understanding each other is a key to taking better care of each other, to prevent hate, bullying and racism, etc. But getting people to understand the importance of protecting the environment is also an important part of working with empathy
Present work it is argued that moral reasoning about the environment can be improved by manipulating the emotion of empathy. It is also argued that the argument of moral reasoning will be different depending on whether the object of empathy is a natural object or a human being.
Green with Empathy
Al Gore and An Inconvenient Truth can only do so much to save the environment, so here’s another tool that may help: empathy.
A recent study published in Environment and Behavior proposes that people will become more concerned about the environment if they try to take the perspective of animals or plants and imagine how those objects are affected by human activity. To test this hypothesis, Spanish psychologist Jaime Berenguer presented study participants with an image of a bird or tree harmed by human impact. After viewing the image, the participant was then either prompted to “feel the full impact of what the bird or tree has been through” or “remain objective and detached.”
Compared to participants who remained detached, participants instructed to take the perspective of the imperiled bird or tree reported stronger empathic feelings toward those objects, and toward the environment as a whole. These empathic feelings translated into a greater willingness to help the environment: The people prompted to feel empathy wanted to give more money to environmental causes than did the other study participants.
While previous studies have shown that inducing empathy for people with AIDS, the homeless, and racial and ethnic minorities can improve people’s behavior toward them, Berenguer’s study is the first to make such a direct connection between empathy and environmental action.
Berenguer says his results suggest the value of empathy in achieving a more environmentally sustainable society. But he cautions that more research is necessary before these findings can be integrated into environmental programs. “In this sense, we find ourselves more at a starting point than at a finishing line,” he says. “But it is a good starting point.” Source
A carbon footprint is the total amount of greenhouse gases (including carbon dioxide and methane) that are generated by our actions.
The average carbon footprint for a person in the United States is 16 tons, one of the highest rates in the world. Globally, the average is closer to 4 tons. To have the best chance of avoiding a 2℃ rise in global temperatures, the average global carbon footprint per year needs to drop under 2 tons by 2050.
Lowering individual carbon footprints from 16 tons to 2 tons doesn’t happen overnight! By making small changes to our actions, like eating less meat, taking less connecting flights and line drying our clothes, we can start making a big difference.
So, show empathy, take care of our common environment and planet for our future generations. Join Empathy Club today