Changing mindsets is key to preventing social and environmental disaster. Jo Confino (The Guardian, 2013) …
This blog is called Care For The Planet, and on this page I am going to share with you the reasons that led to its creation, my vision and ideas behind it, and its mission.
The purpose of Care For The Planet is two-fold. First of all, like all bloggers, I wanted to create a place where I could publish, promote and discuss my own thoughts, reflections and ideas on what I care about the most, and in my case it is the environmental situation on our planet. Through this blog, I hope to:
– contribute to promotion of environmental awareness through focusing on sustainable way of living as the only solution;
– argue that the sustainable living requires a person to adopt a certain mindset which, in turn, is a result of an intellectual, moral and, in a certain sense, spiritual self-development;
– examine the influence of media and various environmental communication strategies on public opinion on this subject.
The second purpose – and in some ways it interlinks with the first one – I hope that with time, this blog becomes an environmental media web center with focus on various issues of current global environmental situation. Ideally, I would like it to have the same spread as, for example, some popular sport web portals. I would want Care For The Planet to become a place for people who share the same interest and passion for the environmental situation to read the latest media news, scientific articles, interact with each other through public debates, become familiar with progressive ideas and suggest their own ones, promote their own environmental blogs and websites, read the research bibliography and conduct their own research, and many more. It is not a secret that today people do feel lost, at times, browsing through an overwhelming sea of information available online, in search for an answer to a specific question or topic of interest. There is a plethora of environmental websites and blogs on the web, and all of them do offer some kind of useful information, but the multiple repetitions of the same posts that are constantly copied from one source to another makes the topic itself seem dull and dampens the enthusiasm of readers.
In other words, I want Care For The Planet to become, with time, a noticeable environmental media and communication web station of sorts, which could prove useful for people who are genuinely interested in environmentalism, but cannot find a place which they could use as initial point of their journey.
And despite I may seem a total dreamer to you, I also hope that in the future, this blog will attract some known bloggers, writers, researchers, other environmental websites, and environment-conscious investors, that would want to cooperate with Care For The Planet in order to contribute to its goals and participate in it.
Now, a few words about my own story, the reasons and the ideas behind this blog.
My name is Ronnie Safarov, and I am currently on my thirty-fourth lap around the Sun. I was born in a country that does not exist anymore as such – it was called Soviet Union. I was a kid when it began to disintegrate, and I witnessed, as the empire started to crumble, like some colossal mammoth wounded by a spear of a prehistoric man, how people began to enthusiastically search for a new, life-defining mindsets to fill the void that formed when their former purpose-of-life-answer used to be. In a flash, nationalist ideologies were on the rise; in a search for a new mindset, people quickly settled for the most primitive and shallow one, unchanged since the dawn of the Stone Age: “our group” versus “their group”-type of thinking. Readily unburying old, ugly hatchets of border conflicts, territorial disputes and finally, inter-ethnic hatred, people started doing terrible things to one another, and any optimistic ideas on unity of men seemed further than ever. As I turned 14, I was taken away by my parents to live in Israel, and alas – there was quite a similar story unfolding right in front of my eyes again.
At the same time, I paid attention on how the environmental situation was rarely a part of the daily agenda in those societies, where issues of national and/or religious concernment were deemed fundamental and most important. It almost seemed as if all the questions of people’s self-determination had ruled out everything else, including issues of harmonious development and peaceful and sustainable existence that to me, always seemed vital.
It was then when I began to reflect on all the things that I have seen, finally coming to think that if there really is an idea that can unite all of us, the 7.3 billion specimen of Homo Sapiens Sapiens species that currently walk upon this Earth, so that all of us could coexist peacefully with one another and in harmony with the nature, such an idea has to:
– First of all, adopt and promote modern universalism and tolerance for various members of our own species, on the ground of mutual respect and unity in diversity. A truly intellectually and spiritually developed human being prevents any type of groupthink-based ideology (be that national, religious, racial, or any other group-influenced social identity) from becoming the fundamental influence for his or her worldview. Such worldviews are detrimental to progressive thinking, because they require us to perceive the reality through explicit categorization, and to define ourselves and the world around us by sets of dubious, often mythical, and detached from the real world and its real issues criteria. They confine its adherents within limited frames of a narrow-minded worldview that offers ready-made, larger-than-life answers for existential rhetorical questions;
– Promote a new set of moral values, in which global compassion and universal care for nature should be seen as an essential, although distant, goal for the humanity. The aim – saving this world for generations to come and developing our consciousness to live in harmony with the surrounding world – should become a weighty argument for change. Environmentalists agree that in order to successfully battle the ecologic crisis that our planet is facing right now, rationalist thinking has to be reinforced by public morality (Bosselmann, 2008), but the latter have to be based not on traditional and/or religious values, but rather on modern, intellectually influenced, progressive ideals of humanity;
– Based on all this, promote environmentally sustainable thinking and environmental awareness as the most essential ideology right now, as the humankind is standing at the threshold of perhaps the most severe ecological catastrophe in its modern history. Even the followers of the most conservative ideas worldwide have to be persuaded to acknowledge the fact that if the world does not stand up in united, global effort in counteracting the environmental crisis, then even the very basis of traditional values – continuity of generations – will cease to exist, as the future generations of our descendants depend on our actions today. If we fail to adopt sustainable management of the nature, moderate our demands, plan the development wisely and carefully in order to take from the nature but leave her the option to replenish – then tomorrow every new generation of our descendants will be doomed to suffer more and more.
But what should be done in order to promote these ideas, to let people worldwide know of the inevitable fate if the global awareness of people continues to be underdeveloped?
Having always been interested in ideas of cultural, economic and informational globalization, after receiving my dual BA in History and East Asian Studies from Tel Aviv University, at the age of 27, I went to pursue my Master of Arts degree in Media and Communication in Örebro University in Sweden. Through our brilliant Global Journalism two-year graduate program I became familiar with such ideas and conceptions, as development communication, war and peace journalism, and influence of mass media on public opinion. During the studies, in my final thesis, I focused primarily on the latter, and was astonished to discover how the ideas, communicated through mass media, may influence and change the public opinion and alter the perception of certain aspects of reality.
We currently live in the world where information is the king and the key to people’s mindsets. But are we always familiar with the source of information that we consume? Do we always know how to differentiate between valid, science-based data, and misinformation? Are we, as global mass media consumers, at all aware that we might fall prey to various powers with dubious and potentially dangerous motives who lobby their interests through winning the support of public opinion by communicating wrong ideas in their publications?
It is especially important today, in 2015, the age of technologic expansion, when the majority of people in the world are permanently connected to the ultimate source of information – the World Web – thanks to an incredible spread of smartphones (Update: for example, according to a recent [April 2015] study by Pew Research Center, 64% of American adults now own a smartphone of some kind, up from 35% in the spring of 2011). Being exposed to the information flow on a daily and even hourly basis, people become highly dependent on media, which becomes even more important and powerful as its outreach becomes truly global and omnipresent.
The educational role of media can hardly be underestimated. Environmental issues of vital importance can hardly be found in the very center of mass media focus today. It is environmentalist researchers’ task, then, to firstly, examine the current status quo between media and environmental sustainability ideas, its representation, topic preference, etc.; secondly, to determine the linkage between representation in media (news press, social media) of environmental sustainability ideas and public opinion; thirdly, to promote the importance of environmental sustainability thinking in media coverage; and lastly, to determine what are the most effective media strategies in order to promote most effectively ideas, news and opinions of vital importance.
The ideas mentioned above have to find the way to draw the attention of the mass public, awaken their interest, influence their outlook, make them believe that it is in their power to bring about change. We need to help recalibrate the mass media interests, always keeping in mind that only through changing mindsets of as many people as possible, we can successfully promote environmental awareness just in time to efficiently withstand the approaching disaster.
Welcome to Care For The Planet blog!
Bosselmann, Klaus (2008) The Principle of Sustainability: Transforming Law and Governance, Ashgate Publishing.
Smith, Aaron (2015), US Smartphone use in 2015 (online publication), Pew Research Center, retrieved in July 2015, available online on http://www.pewinternet.org/2015/04/01/us-smartphone-use-in-2015/#smartphones.
These are not mere words. I intend to efficiently implement these ideas on academic and practical level, and having recently enrolled into M.Sc. program in Environmental Sustainability at University of Ottawa, I am looking forward to address these issues very soon, something which I am very excited about.
Ronnie Safarov, 2014. Updated July 2015
#carefortheplanet #mission #blog #environment #environmentalsustainability #environmentalawareness #massmedia #mediainfluence #universityofottawa #misinformation #informationspread