The Faces of Climate Change, 4th Quarter, 2019 Newsletter
Thank you for following or contributing an interview to “The Faces of Climate Change” website. Periodically I hope to summarize our progress and discuss what I have learned and share it with those who are interested in a newsletter. Since I don’t like a lot of odd Emails, I hope to keep this to monthly or quarterly.
4th Quarter Summary
Forty interviews were conducted in the first three months of the project. Twenty-three of the individuals who were brave enough to be interviewed identified with being from the Azores, six from the USA, two from Poland, and single interviews were obtained from Germany, Canada, France, Switzerland, Scotland, Austria, Luxembourg, Belgium, and Slovakia.
A general trend seems to be that people from mainland Europe and the USA that I encountered were well informed and concerned about the impacts of climate change. Out of this group roughly 50% of the people from the USA attributed climate change to human activities while the other half was skeptical or unsure of humans influence. The people I encountered from mainland Europe seems were more convinced of humans impact on the climate with roughly 80% feeling that our activities are the major drivers of climate change.
In general, the people of the Azores did not seemed concerned about climate change. Roughly 25% of the people from the Azores seem to be concerned about climate change and the other 75% either did not mention weather changes as a concern or did not think man had an impact. Peoples of the Azores were very concerned about plastic pollution in the ocean and roughly 75% of individuals interviewed sited it as a problem. Most people from the Azores placed the blame of plastics in the ocean on people from other countries.
I feel an important aspect of the project over time will be to see how peoples opinions change over time. An ideal goal is to revisit these places in a decade and capture an additional time points. Trends in data may be more important than the overall percentages, especially with these small sample sizes. Another factor to consider is that many of the people we encountered in the Azores were every day people in there own home town and people from the North America and mainland Europe were were travelling. This different demographic may also contribute to the differences in concerns about climate change.
The Azores was a stunning country with friendly and open people who had “Time to live life by its natural rhythm.” Even though the people were clearly happy, it became equally clear over time that making a living is a struggle in the Azores. There is not a lot of economic opportunity on small islands in the middle of the Atlantic and many people seemed more focused on thinking about how to get by day to day instead of fretting about a changing climate.
Plastics pollution was a common concern of all people of the world. While folks from the Azores were quick to blame outsiders, there was plenty of evidence that people in the Azores contribute. Smoking is a common pastime in the Azores and cigarette butts were everywhere. Fishermen there use small glow sticks as lures and I frequently encounter these still glowing on morning walks. There were also plenty of empty plastic seed and fertilizer bags of in farmers fields. Most people seem to feel that recycling was a way to justify their use of plastics but recycling is starting to seem like a mechanism to make make people feel good about using and throwing away plastics. Several times I watched dumpster where people had carefully sorted items combined at pickup by the garbage truck. This seems to echo points in many articles that very little plastic actually gets recycles, even in places where curbside services are available. One such article can be found here. Plastics. Recycling is a broken system. It is a good idea that should be improved but people seem to perceive that recycling justifies using a lot of plastic. As a species we need to rethink our love of plastics. Plastics clearly have good uses, but purchasing items packaged in plastic and single use plastic containers is something consumers should consider boycotting.
Current Status and Goals for Next Phase.
The crew is currently taking a break from sailing and spending time with our families for the holidays while the weather in the North Atlantic settles down. We will return to the R Heritage Too in March and head towards the Mediterranean. We are looking for crew and the advertisement can be found on captain Bruce’s website http://www.blueworldexpeditions.com/ and the crew-seekers website.
My personal goal is to ask better questions and to ask these question in a non-biased manner. I desire to document all opinions in a manner that encourages honest communication and promotes thinking about the topics people feel are important. We will potentially visit Morocco, Tunisia and Egypt and am very interested in capturing opinions about the what is happening in the natural world in these locations. We are also looking to get classrooms involved with the project and we have a number of ideas about how this could occur.
Thank you again for following our journey. Feel free to email me if you have any comments or suggestions.