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Using the political ideology behind climate change as a cultural element, this essay will explore how globalization, cultural diffusion, adaptation, and adoption have consequences for the future cultural geography of places and their species. I will explore the definition and history of cultural geography and show how climate change has moved from a science-based concept to a cultural phenomenon. The impact of culture on climate change is more prevalent than ever before and the need to change political ideology locally in order to affect climate change globally is becoming more and more evident.
‘In recent decades, climate change has undergone a process of diffusion from the natural sciences to the social sciences and humanities in which climate change has shifted in meaning from a purely natural phenomenon to having a cultural dimension’ (Hulme 2016; Brace and Geoghegan 2011; Batterbury 2008)
Research done by …… acknowledges climate change as being accepted more as a cultural phenomenon than ever before and through their findings shows how a greater understanding of this phenomenon can help shape the global environment that is being impacted by climate change. Their paper creates a cultural focus on the topic of climate change, where climate-relevant perceptions are grounded in wider cultural, political, and material contexts. Using discussion of where pieces of cultural knowledge have originated and constructed our environmental problems, they explore citizens’ versions of climate-relevant issues in three culturally diverse emerging economies: Brazil, South Africa, and China. Their choice of countries is integral to their research due to greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions rising significantly in these countries in the future. Conducting interviews with a range of people from each country using a narrative approach, showing citizens were more concerned with locally relevant issues giving fewer accounts referring to environmental problems. Instead, the citizens tended to group other environmental issues together with a wide range of cultural assumptions. This led researchers to conclude that climate change ideology needed to address locally relevant issues more in order to develop a further dialogue that would embrace wider construction of climate-relevant issues in ways globally so changes could be made, understood, and applied locally. (Put in research paper reference)
If we look at the definition of cultural diffusion being the spread of cultural beliefs and social activities from one group of people to another, we can see (researcher name)...being able to use global political ideology if related to local issues in a vernacular discourse. The mixing of world cultures through different ethnicities, religions, and nationalities has only increased with advanced communication, transportation, and technology so in this way, globalization has the ability to be a positive influence on the spread of climate change ideology if done on a local level using a global discourse.
This can be proven by looking at adoption as a geographical definition, whereby we see the process of a smaller group of people slowly adopting the beliefs and customs of their local culture. This geographic concept further confirms that the political and global ideology needs to be addressed from a local and more relevant perspective as discussed in earlier research.
If we look at cultural adaptation, where new people adapt to the culture of the previously existing people we can once again see the need to address the environmental issues of climate change at a local as well as international level. According to the research outlined above, one can see that it is a two-pronged approach. One feeds the other and neither can operate alone.
This is an enormous undertaking and to fully understand the impact that society and culture have on the political ideology behind climate change, it is interesting to look at the history of ‘Cultural Geography’ and its application. By using this area of expertise in geography, we can explore the interchange between the natural landscape and the cultural landscape humans create. To fully understand how this interchange has developed the political ideology of climate change, it is important to look at where the concept of cultural geography and the political ideology of climate change first originated.
Looking at different nations and cultures on Earth can be linked back to the ancient geographers of Ptolemy or Strabo, but cultural geography as an academic study came into view as an alternative to the environmental determinist theories of the early Twentieth Century. The environment determinists believed that the environment determined people and societies, whereas cultural geography believed that culture and societies were more likely to determine the environment than the former. This was led by Carl P. Sauer also known as the father of cultural geography.
If we address climate change from a cultural geographical perspective, this field of study is more likely to see cultures and societies developing out of their local landscapes as well as shaping those landscapes. The understanding that this interchange between the natural landscape and humans creating cultural landscapes is the foundation of cultural geography. (Wikipedia)
‘Historically, the scientific discovery of climate change began in the early 19th century when ice ages and other natural changes in paleoclimate were first suspected and the natural greenhouse effect first identified’ (find where the quote came from).
‘The complex politics of global warming results from numerous cofactors arising from the global economy's interdependence on carbon dioxide (CO2) emitting hydrocarbon energy sources and because CO2 is directly implicated in global warming—making global warming a non-traditional environmental challenge.’ ((find where quote came from’).
As the vast majority of the world's economy relies heavily on manufacturing and energy sources that release greenhouse gases at almost every stage of production, transportation, storage, delivery & disposal, and renowned scientists attribute global warming to the release of CO2 and other greenhouse gases, the link between global warming and economic reliance implicates the world's economy on one end of the scale and the geographic environment in which we live on the other end. It is not surprising therefore that the political ideology of climate change opinion is polarised, depending on how each individual and society views its survival.
As energy needs increase with industrialization and production of CO2 increases as a result, developing country CO2 emissions are starting to rise just as science, politics, global governance organizations, and advocacy groups are letting us know through multiple channels that CO2 emissions should be decreasing not increasing. Without the financial ability to address more cost-effective and environmentally sensitive methods of energy, many developing countries see climate change as a hindrance to their survival and economic development;
In order to address the global issue of climate change, the local economic issues that hinder developing countries need to be addressed so they can achieve widespread global changes to the environment. However, even if changes in political ideology around climate change had the capacity to help stabilize CO2 emissions, the effects of global warming would last many years, and adaptation to climate change will still be necessary.
‘Climate change adaptation is a response to global warming (also known as 'climate change' or 'anthropogenic climate change'). The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) defines adaptation as: 'the process of adjustment to actual or expected climate and its effects. In human systems, adaptation seeks to moderate or avoid harm or exploit beneficial opportunities. In some natural systems, human intervention may facilitate adjustment to the expected climate and its effects.(where does this quote come from)
These adaptation actions can happen incrementally, with the intention of maintaining the integrity of its society and system, or through transformational adaptation where the fundamental aspects of a system change as a response to climate change and its impact.
The vulnerability of a system/society will vary and adaptation will vary accordingly in its environmental impact. The concept of adaptation is particularly important in developing countries as they will be more burdened by the effects of global warming as the costs of adaptation to climate change will cost billions. This challenge to a political ideology will grow with the enormity and speed of climate change. In this sense adaptation is unavoidable.
‘Adaptive capacity is closely linked to social and economic development’. (Where’s this quote come from )
It is impossible to discuss the political ideology of climate change without understanding the process of globalization, which is the driving force in climate change as discussed previously. Without industrialization, increased CO2 emissions would not be increasing and it is globalization that’s causing this to happen.
As we become more and more connected globally, free movement of capital, increased international trade, cultural exchange, and greater dependence on the global economy with the production of goods and services increase with the biggest companies in the world becoming multinational corporations operating in multiple countries rather than one nation firms. Although this has been happening for hundreds of years, the last half-century has shown enormous growth and speed.
‘Although globalization is probably helping to create more wealth in developing countries - it is not helping to close the gap between the world's poorest countries and the world's richest’.(Where does this quote come from)
It could be argued that the reason it is difficult to increase political ideology toward a global swing in reducing CO2 emissions and the environmental impact of climate change is that there are many positive impacts from globalization.
TNCs are helping countries by increasing employment and skills for local people and as I’ve discussed previously, the need to address local issues is paramount to changing people's views on the necessity to address climate change ideology.
The ability to share ideas, experiences and lifestyles of people and cultures has increased with communication, social media, and technology. This increases people's awareness of local issues in faraway parts of the world. This is particularly relevant ironically with national disasters and sending aid. The fact that increased globalization is causing climate change and hence national disasters, is counteracted by the fact that awareness of these events is more readily available to the global community allowing politics to play a part in helping other countries which leads me to the negative impact of globalization.
‘Globalisation operates mostly in the interests of the richest countries, which continue to dominate world trade at the expense of developing countries(where does this quote come from)
‘One of the consequences of economic development is increasing urbanization, which leads to more energy-intensive lifestyles (Sadorsky 2014).
While economic development has important benefits for citizens, adaptation to certain levels of climate-relevant risk implies a potential trade-off whereby governments can absolve themselves of the responsibility of addressing environmental problems if they are portrayed as a natural consequence of economic development that has to be accepted, or as less serious in comparison with other places. We, therefore, assert the need for more detailed studies of vernacular understandings of climate change that draw attention to the sociopolitics of everyday communicative practices. Neglect of the situated, cultural, and politically charged nature of climate change will likely only lead to policy that does not resonate with citizens in ways that motivate action if related concerns are not addressed.’ (Awesome Quote from paper to conclude essay)
- Nash, Whitmarsh, Capstick, Gouveia, de Carvalho…. Wang (2019) Local climate change cultures: climate-relevant discursive practices in three emerging economies https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10584-019-02477-8
- Batterbury, Simon (2008) Anthropology and Global Warming: The Need for Environmental Engagement https://www.researchgate.net/publication/249500553_Anthropology_and_Global_Warming_The_Need_for_Environmental_Engagement
- Brace and Geoghegan (2010) Human geographies of climate change: Landscape, temporality, and lay knowledge https://www.researchgate.net/publication/249872355_Human_geographies_of_climate_change_Landscape_temporality_and_lay_knowledges
- Hulme, M (2016) Weathered: Cultures of climate https://mikehulme.org/major-publications-2016/#