Social Psychology of Culture and Ethnic Populations: The Impact of Global Warming on Social Change within Culture and Ethnicity

By Hundley, Kathleen G. | Forum on Public Policy: A Journal of the Oxford Round Table, Spring 2008 | Go to article overview

Social Psychology of Culture and Ethnic Populations: The Impact of Global Warming on Social Change within Culture and Ethnicity


Hundley, Kathleen G., Forum on Public Policy: A Journal of the Oxford Round Table


Introduction

Our planet is in a state of strife and crisis from a number of fronts. This paper examines the Social Psychology of Culture and Ethnic Populations, examining particularly a subtopic of that topic of great interest world-wide, global warming, or climate change. Three major points discuss a hypothesis that establishes a link between climate change and social change that impacts cultures and related ethnic issues across the globe. Point 1 is the reality of a changing worldwide climate and the negative impact of such change on the natural, social, cultural and ethnic fiber of life in various parts of the globe. Point 2 discusses the catastrophic results in a growing number of distressed countries of corrupt governments that thrive on desperate conditions and that often spawn civil war that results in disenfranchised people being driven out of their own country, and Point 3 addresses the trauma and upheaval of leaving traditional homelands to escape starvation and warfare and, in the process, losing the thread of ethnic identity that makes a people unique and binds them together. A final point raises questions with regard to potential solutions to the social situations that are occurring in desperate parts of the world and that will see worldwide increase if and as the climate continues to warm.

Climate Change Defined and Its Effects Described

What is meant by climate change? Is it a potentially cataclysmic change in the planet's processes, or simply another of Earth's ancient cycles? That the question is of general interest to the world population is evidenced by numerous articles and reports available for review. According to the web site of Heartland Institute, a national nonprofit nonpartisan research and education organization (Heartland, 2007), 863 titles were listed on its Global Warming/Climate Change section during 2007, and many other similar sources provide ample scientific evidence that the climate worldwide IS changing and that the world IS becoming warmer. The web encyclopedia for the lay public, Wikipedia, published an overview of the implications of global warming and states, in lay terms, that "the predicted effects of global warming on the environment and on human life are numerous and varied ... recent effects of climate change may be already occurring." The article goes on to address relevant subjects such as rising sea levels, glacier retreat, altered patterns of agriculture, all of which are cited as direct consequences (of global warming) (Wikipedia, 2007). James Hansen, PhD, Climatologist and Director of NASA / Goddard Institute for Space Studies at Columbia University, is one of the world's foremost scientific authorities on global warming, and during 2007, Dr. Hansan wrote 14 articles and gave numerous presentations discussing his concern for and evidence of global warning (Hansen, 2008). In his comments, Dr. Hansen explained how gases being produced by the combustion of fossil fuels are contributing to a "greenhouse effect by retaining heat on the planet like glass panels do on a greenhouse." In a January 29, 2008 talk to the Royal College of Physicians, London, UK, Dr. Hansen speaks of "Global Warming--The Perfect Storm: Health Implications of Climate Change" in which he contrasts the global effects of C[O.sub.2] and the resulting threat to the health of the youth of today and their inheritance of a sick planet with efforts that, if made today, could change the potential end result of increased sickness of living things and the planet alike. (Hansen, 2008). In a January 20, 2008 interview on a television special program, Dr. Hansen warned that the earth has no more than 10 years to reverse the present undeniable trend of drastic changes in the earth's climate, or the change will be unstoppable (Peley, 2008).

A report on a study published in the journal, Proceedings in the National Academy of Sciences, states that there has been a dramatic decline identified in the ability of the Earth to soak up manmade emissions of carbon dioxide, as well as an acceleration in the rate of increase of greenhouse gas in the atmosphere (Canadell, 2007).

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