Myths of nature and their significance for the range of managerial responses

outline 4 myths of nature and explain their significance for the range of managerial responses

Perspectives on the greenhouse effect and global warming By S.M. Enzler MSc
How do we respond to global warming?
People may develop various perspectives throughout their lives. It turns out these perspectives are an important determinant for a person’s perception of the greenhouse effect and global warming. The theory of perspectives was developed by Professor John Adams at University College London.
We must note that these perspectives are part of a model described in social science. Alternatives to this view of interactions between humans and nature exist and it can therefore not be viewed as absolute.
There are four types of perceptions of nature, which were called ‘myths of nature’ by John Adams. These myths of nature are explained here. Each myth can be represented graphically by a sphere rolling in a landscape.
The first myth is called ‘nature benign’. This means that nature is very robust and responds well to man-made disturbances; always returning to its natural state.
The second myth is called ‘nature ephemeral’. This means that nature is fragile and does not respond well to man-made disturbances; when disturbance is caused, nature will not automatically return to its natural state.
The third myth is called ‘nature perverse/tolerant’. This basically means that nature can tolerate disturbances up to a certain degree. If disturbances are small, nature will return to equilibrium. Larger disturbances pose a threat to nature functioning.
The fourth myth is called ‘nature capricious’. This basically means that nature is random and unpredictable and we will never know exactly how it will respond to disturbances.

The myths of nature can be applied on a person’s perception of the greenhouse effect and global warming. This would mean that a person with a nature benign perception would not want us to act upon global warming, believing that nature itself will restore its natural balance. Contrarily, a person with a nature ephemeral perception would speak of global warming as a so-called ‘doom-scenario’ upon which we must act, otherwise nature will be seriously disturbed beyond repair. A person with a nature perverse perception would want some action to be taken, but is not as extreme as an ephemeral type, nor as commonsensible as a benign type.
These four myths of nature divide people up in four distinct types by perception:
• Nature benign types are commonly known as individualists. These are self-seeking people relatively free from control by others, who want to control the environment around them and the people in it. Being mostly economists, the individualists emphasize wealth as an important determinant of their happiness. The USA is a typical example of a country that is governed individualistically.
• Nature ephemeral types are commonly known as egalitarians. These people have strong group loyalties and act solely upon the rules imposed to them by nature. Democracy is a very important political term for egalitarians. They often join environmental pressure groups in order to influence politics. Some Greenpeace activists may be typical egalitarians.
• Nature perverse/tolerant types are commonly known as hierarchists. These are characterized by compromising, binding prescriptions and clear social relations. It is typical for a hierarchist to try to solve an environmental problem by introducing boundaries for emissions of pollutants and other environmental threats. The Netherlands is a typical example of a country that is governed hierarchistically.
• Nature capricious types are commonly known as fatalists. They do not participate in political discussions on the environment because they simply believe no one knows exactly what will happen in the future. They have minimal control over their own lives and often see no point in trying to change their fate. People in developing countries may be fatalists because they have no control over the quality of their own lives.

 

 

 

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