Global Warming

Global Warming - MacKenzie 1 Andrew MacKenzie February 14,...

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MacKenzie 1 Andrew MacKenzie February 14, 2008 SOC 002 Dr. Jones Global Warming: Two Analytical Perspectives Most people in the United States are aware of the problem known as global warming. Each of us has our own carbon footprint, our own contribution to the overall warming of the planet. If each of us were to reduce our carbon footprint, the effects of global warming would slow, and ultimately return to normal. All people need to do is change some things about how they live, and this goal can be accomplished. However, global warming continues at an ever increasing rate. This obviously shows that not everyone is doing their part. The solution requires the majority of the population to contribute, yet not everyone is participating. Rational Choice Theory and Social Constructionism offer two unique social psychological perspectives of the reasons behind a lackluster individual participation. There are aspects of each of these perspectives that provide compelling theories as to why there is a lack of participation in the fight against global warming. Understanding these concepts is the key to better understanding the problem as a whole. Once a better understanding of the fundamental problem of participation is reached, further steps can be taken to solving it. Rational Choice theory is one of the most prominent, obvious, and simple reasons for the inaction of the public. The basic concept of Rational Choice is that people are constantly engaging in cost/benefit analysis. The goal is to maximize benefits and minimize cost, which is human nature. This constant analysis influences most, if not all of our actions. If this concept is applied to the global warming scenario, it is easy to see some reasons of inaction. In order to drastically reduce the carbon footprint, a person has to change multiple aspects of their lives. It would be required to buy a more fuel efficient car and appliances, consciously keep track of energy and gas usage, perhaps spend more money on green products and in general just make an overall effort to change how to live life. This is a tremendous effort in today’s “Do what makes you happy.”, “Do whatever you want to do.” world. People are used to doing things ‘their way’, and it is irritating to them to have to change how they live. This is only half of the analysis, because there needs to be a benefit for this apparently large cost. The benefit happens to only be a tiny part in the global struggle to reduce carbon footprints. One part of six and a half billion . In essence, your personal change has almost no direct effect on the environment. This is where the Free Rider problem comes into affect. This is a fairly self explanatory concept. It is someone who expects to gain the benefit of other’s work with little to no effort on the free rider’s part. In context, the free rider is someone who realizes that they are just one in six and a half billion and comes to the conclusion that if everyone else does the work, his inaction won’t matter. Assuming that all of the other
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Global Warming - MacKenzie 1 Andrew MacKenzie February 14,...

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