Understanding Environment

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For each environmental issue there are many perspectives and much uncertainty. Environmental education cultivates the ability to recognize uncertainty, envision alternative scenarios, and adapt to changing conditions and information. The knowledge, skill and mindset translate into a citizenry that is better able to address its common problems and take advantage of opportunities, whether environmental concerns are involved or not.

Environmental education focusing on realworld contexts and issues often begins close to home, encouraging learners to forge connections with and understand their immediate surroundings. The awareness, knowledge and skills needed for these local connections and understandings provide a base for moving out into larger systems, broader issues, and a more sophisticated comprehension of causes, connections and consequences. The book under review by Centre for Environment Education CEE conceptualizes the environment as a multidimensional complex living system and explains the interlinkages among various functional components of the system.

Beginning with basic concepts, 13 chapters cover a wide range of topics as well as pedagogical approaches questions, exercises, etc. The chapters have a useful collection of references, so that students can acquaint themselves with the literature.

The publication examines basic ideas of pedagogy and demands real thought on the part of the reader. Here, the reader is presented with instructional systems that consider performance-based learning self-learning and evaluation: questions and exercises.

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Readers find themselves mobilizing a cluster of skills that together move them towards competency development. The publication should be on the reading list of university education dealing with this subject. For those working in this field, the path is made easier with this timely publication by CEE. Understanding Environment T. Nagarathna 2. People with private economic power struggle to contain the scope of a conflict so they can resolve the conflict privately.

In contrast, people with less private economic power work to expand the scope of conflict and bring an issue to the public agenda. The environment involves a set of shared or common resources, like the air we breathe and the water we drink, and it is sometimes in someone's short-term interest to use or degrade the resource.

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People make money from pollution. These folks quite naturally seek to define their use of natural resources as a private, rather than public, matter. That is how fracking fluid came to be defined by Dick Cheney and his pals as proprietary, a company secret that the public need not know. Efforts to open up the debate on fracking can be characterized as an effort by advocates to expand the scope of conflict and by industry to contain it -- to keep decisions in the hands of a select few. How an issue reaches the political agenda influences how it is defined as a public policy problem and also defines the boundaries of feasible policy solutions.

While some scientists believe we could develop a safe and effective way to extract natural gas using hydraulic fracturing, the dominance of the issue by anti-regulatory and anti-fracking zealots has ensured that the definition of the issue on our political agenda is an on and off switch: Either ban fracking or "drill baby drill. In the book I use a number of case studies to attempt to characterize the issue at hand and examine an environmental issue from a variety of perspectives. For example, take the issue of electronic waste.

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Americans own about three billion electronic products and discard million of them each year. Many of these devices, such as cell phones and laptops, contain toxic substances. We love these devices and are addicted to them.

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These are values we hold and policies designed to manage these wastes must account for our dependence on them. The science and technology that underlies these electronic devices have only recently started to consider the impact caused by dumping electronics when we no longer want to use them. The economics of the electronics business builds in a product development cycle that make electronics obsolete long before they stop working. These business dynamics must also be understood if we are to develop an effective approach to managing electronic waste. Many efforts to understand and influence environmental policy are based on partial and parochial views of the issues being considered.

I think effective policy requires a more comprehensive and sophisticated perspective. An effort to understand the causes of environmental problems is a prerequisite to realistic policy making. I am not arguing that simply understanding the current state of environmental problems and policy is sufficient. It is necessary but we also need the courage to make decisions that trade-off short-term costs for long-term gains. In Washington D. We are approaching a quarter century since Congress was able to enact major new environmental laws. Our analysis first considered the types of places in which second homeowners permanently resided at the four geographic units of aggregation county, tract, block group, and zip code.

Model 1 consisted only of dummy, control measures representing the study locations. Model 2 included two dummy variables that compared the effect of urban and suburban places of permanent residence to rural permanent residence. Model 3 assessed indicators prominent in the social bases of environmental concern: income, education, gender, length of residence, and political orientations.

In preliminary analyses, we evaluated interaction terms between education and political orientation given their recent importance in the rural sociological literature on environmental concern e. No significant interactions were found at any geographic scale, and therefore the interaction terms were not included in the final analysis. Model 4 added the effect of place attachment on environmental concern, and Model 5 added the place outlook indicator.

Across the four geographic scales, almost half The northern New Hampshire study area had the highest proportion of rural second homeowners Suburban second homeowners made up nearly half of the seasonal residents in the Adirondack Table 3 summarizes the results of OLS regression models predicting local environmental concern corresponding to the geographic scale of permanent residence classification county, tract, block group, and zip code.

Overall, the models had very low explanatory power, with at most To assess the extent to which respondents' local environmental concerns reflected their attitudes toward the environment versus the place in which they experienced the local environment i. At all four geographic scales, Model 3 indicators performed relatively poorly, explaining 3.

The only measure to significantly shape environmental concern was political orientation, with more conservative orientations negatively associated with local environmental concern at all four geographic scales.

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The proportion of explained variance was improved when place constructs were considered in Model 4 and Model 5, at all four geographic scales. Place attachment Model 4 accounted for 2. Lastly, none of the regression models found significant relationships between environmental concern based on gender, household income, or length of residence, when controlling for the other measures. Our work considered the ways in which place attachment and place outlook were associated with second homeowners' local environmental concerns, and compared these place constructs to sociodemographic indicators of the social bases of environmental concern framework.

In aggregate, our results suggest that the social bases of environmental concern framework should continue to be reconsidered, particularly surrounding the ways in which place is typically conceptualized as permanent residence in urban or rural places. Place is important to environmental concern for second homeowners, but not necessarily based on permanent residence locations.

Sociodemographic predictors of environmental concern from the social bases of environmental concern framework, including urban or rural permanent residence, tend to explain a very small proportion of variation in respondents' environmental concerns Dietz et al. Rather, the place attachment and place outlook constructs considered herein were the most prominent drivers of local environmental concern among second homeowners, even though their effects were also modest. Nonetheless, place attachment and place outlook offer mechanisms through which second homeowners permanently residing in any urban, suburban, or rural places may develop local environmental concerns about their seasonal areas.

That place attachment and place outlook are drivers of local environmental concern suggests that the type of concern that second homeowners expressed toward the environment includes a more general concern about their places of seasonal residence. In other words, respondents expressed concern , not solely environmental concern.

Our findings therefore suggest that second homeowners who are more concerned about environmental quality may also be more concerned about the place overall, including but perhaps not limited to the natural environment. It is critical to consider the way in which place attributes are operationalized within the social bases of environmental concern model. We have reasonable confidence in this nonfinding as, by focusing on second homeowners who permanently resided in different types of places, we compared concerns about the same area of potential, local environmental concern Freudenburg In fact, many rural places—even those categorized as rural using a small geographic unit—that are experiencing rapid growth or exurban development may have urban or suburban characteristics.

We encourage researchers to think about place at finer scales using geographic information systems, georeferencing procedures, and place typologies, which may allow researchers of rurality and the environment to more readily position their work within place, and to integrate social science information with spatially explicit place characteristics. For example, future work should consider place meanings as underpinnings of place attachment e.

Another potential point of expansion is to identify the dimensions of place outlook that may encourage or diminish local environmental concern. How do residents' assessments of environmental and community change interact with one another to create or shape environmental concern? Second homeownership is an important component of rural life in natural amenity communities.


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Our findings confirm past, recent work that political orientations influence local environmental concern, when controlling for other factors Hamilton et al. In contrast, place attachment, and the ability of seasonal residents to form such attachments regardless of the rurality or urbanity of their origins, may help explain why local environmental concerns are similar among urban, suburban, and rural second homeowners in our case study. Our findings raise the question how does place attachment compare to widespread, proenvironmental attitude diffusion Dunlap and York or demographic shifts between urban and rural places Lichter and Brown in ameliorating the politicization of environmental topics Hamilton et al.

Perhaps shared place attachment and place outlook are starting points for expanding community dialogue on environmental topics, and diverting attention away from demographic differences that explain little about residents' environmental concerns.