Task 1 : Write a critically reflective account of your own life/experience. The account must:
- focus on the nature of your relationship with the non-human world and the current
- link your personal experience to a demonstration of your understanding of the subject
material, including (for example) principles and values of modernity, sustainability, the
concept of anthropocentrism,
REDISCOVERING HARMONY: MY JOURNEY TOWARDS ECOLOGICAL CONSCIOUSNESS
Reflecting on the intricate web of my life, I realise that it has been a rollercoaster ride of self-discovery, awakening and a growing sense of duty to the non-human world and the looming climate catastrophe. In this critically reflective account, I address my own experiences, including references to modernity, sustainability and my understanding of the ecological problem, to discuss the implications for my future work in the social sector. Social stability is threatened by the impact of climate change on water and food systems, as evidenced by declining agricultural yields, skyrocketing food costs and the catastrophic effects of droughts and forest fires. These ecological impacts, once relegated to the margins of human consciousness, are increasingly drawing our attention and acting as triggers for social breakdowns that reverberate throughout communities.
The impacts of climate change, according to Spratt et al. (2019), “represent major negative consequences for humanity, underscoring the urgency of a rapid transition to a zero-emissions industrial system.” These grim facts also call for a comprehensive examination of climate science projections and their linkage to risk management approaches that fundamentally diverge from accepted methodologies. Thus, the urgent need to make the switch to a zero emissions becomes a need to protect our own survival (Roaf et al., 2009).
Hence, an immediate action is necessary to reconfigure our industrial systems and avoid disastrous repercussions.
Relationship with the Non-Human World and the current Climate Emergency
My life’s journey used to be dominated by the hustle and bustle of modern city life, where the non-human world was often pushed to the margins of my consciousness. The comforts and distractions of ordinary life obscured the urgency of the climate problem. Ecological problem was no longer a distant concern, but became a constant presence in my life.
Earth is a self-regulating system and massive damage to Earth’s biodiversity and climate would take millions of years to repair (Robertson, 2017). I came to the conclusion that the fate of the planet and our own are closely linked. However, the inexorable effects of climate change began to permeate my world, transforming these intangible threats into actual dangers that I had to respond to.
The Environmental Justice and Climate Change Initiative, established in 2001, outlined fundamental principles focused around reducing emissions and fossil fuel usage, safeguarding at-risk communities, guaranteeing a fair shift towards renewable energy with community involvement, and ensuring fairness across generations (Schlosberg & Collins, 2014).
As Kopnina (2014) points out, my perspective changed significantly after seeing first-hand the importance of conserving endangered species or how animals are mistreated in industrial food production. The implications of ecological equality and the acceptance of the flourishing of non-human beings started to resonate strongly, highlighting the fundamental inequalities in the dominant worldview (Barry, 2012).
Personal Experience to Subject Material
I have come to know the ideas that underlie our ecological concerns today through active engagement with the subject. My actions and my perception of anthropocentrism – the idea that human interests should take precedence over ecological health (Crist & Kopnina, 2014) – mirror each other. I feel that we operate with blinders on, only paying attention to how our actions affect ourselves while ignoring the complex web of life that supports us. The topic has enhanced my understanding of the symbiotic connection between human civilisation and the natural environment by illuminating the complex balance that must be maintained for long-term coexistence. The truth that our actions have far-reaching effects beyond our immediate comfort. Economic depletion is leading them into irreversible decline as non-renewable minerals are converted into discarded materials, excessive deforestation of the earth, overfishing that exceeds the limits of sustainability, and pollution of lakes and rivers (Tester, 2004).
An important step was to acknowledge the scientific reticence in policy-relevant research on climate change (Jinnah and Nicholson, 2019). This spoke to me personally as my awareness grew, emphasising the importance of accepting the limits of our knowledge.
My growing concern about the existential impacts of climate change was reflected in the advice to policymakers to take a scenario approach, focusing in particular on the possibilities of severe warming. The links between these suggestions and my own awakening highlighted the urgency of the issue and the importance of making well-informed choices. I felt a deep resonance with the observations of Kopnina (2014), who emphasised the need for justice based on identification, aptitude and involvement in human-nonhuman connections. Eco-advocates’ plea for the inclusion of non-humans in political institutions matched my own process of coming to understand the moral implications of ecological justice.
Implications for My Future Social Welfare Practice
This introspective approach is really important as I set out to become a social worker. For my future endeavours, my newfound ecological conscience serves as a compass. The realisation that the pursuit of justice requires a broader knowledge that takes into account ecological and human interdependencies is necessary given the severity of the climate crisis. I am aware that solving social well-being problems requires a comprehensive strategy that takes into account both human well-being and environmental health. The urgent need to bridge the gap between people-centred policies and sustainable ecological practises is highlighted by the climate emergency.
In my future, I see myself supporting laws and programmes that combine ecological justice with social welfare. The history of our society must change from one of exploitation to one of conservation, just as my own path has done. I want to support the holistic well-being of people and the environment by incorporating ecological awareness and ideas of sustainability into my practise.
It is more likely that the adoption of a new planetary ethic will lead to a paradigm shift, much like the widespread acceptance of racial and gender equality in neoliberal cultures. The incorporation of biospheric equality within the context of ecological justice is not only feasible but also vital, just as the evolution of human ethics has been characterised by moves towards inclusivity.
Ecological Literacy and Societal Considerations
Ecological literacy should encompass the comprehension of the connections between human behaviours and their consequent impacts on ecosystems (Jordan et al., 2009). The work of Pitman et al. (2018) highlights its importance for the thriving and survival of species. In this complex interaction, ecological literacy emerges as a pillar and serves as the foundation for comprehending the systems that support life on Earth. The need of ecological literacy became clear when the ecological catastrophe and my own journey of personal enlightenment entwined.
Pitman et al.’s (2018) survey of South Australian people found favourable associations between socio-demographic and psychographic characteristics and ecological literacy. Gender, age, education, work position, interaction with nature, and relational learning, among other traits of people with high ecological literacy, jibe with my developing comprehension of the complicated interdependencies between humans and the environment.
The patterns of distinction between those with high ecological literacy and those with poor ecological literacy highlight the need of developing an informed populace capable of making wise environmental decisions. The ramifications of this evaluation resonate throughout society, signalling the necessity of extensive education and awareness initiatives to improve ecological literacy among people.
Embracing Just Transformation
The pursuit of equitable transformation is a complex undertaking that requires both remedial and structural changes in the social fabric. According to Martin et al. (2020), the fundamental elements of justice go beyond distributive equity to include moral considerations embedded in practise and policy. The difficulties of implementing such change require a calculated strategy – one that circumvents oppressive institutions of power while promoting grassroots action.
This way of thinking is consistent with my path, which combines activism for social change with personal revelation. As a practitioner, it is crucial to recognise and support the role of civil society in creating moral pathways for just reform. This is in keeping with the spirit of valuing many points of view, encouraging discussion about human welfare and promoting a “safe and just” future.
Reflection on the possible recurrence of power imbalances is stimulated by the interlinked demands for environmental protection and justice. In the face of global climate and environmental crises, a radical approach to research and engagement that includes many perspectives and cultures is proving key to changing power relations, strengthening capacities and addressing vulnerabilities.
In the midst of my personal journey, entwined with the unfolding ecological crisis, I have come to grasp that my experiences form a mere fragment within humanity’s grand narrative. The gravity of the climate crisis necessitates the convergence of narratives, strategies, and actions. Driven by ecological awareness, global imperatives, and personal awakening, I am compelled to become an advocate for change and lend my voice to the collective call for a just transition.
Increasingly, I perceive how the threads of my life are intricately woven into the destiny of both humanity and our planet. Climate change knows no borders, weaving individual stories into a vast global tapestry of interconnectedness. Given its pressing urgency, unity is paramount, bridging personal narratives with public discourse, legislation, and activism to pave the path toward a resilient future rooted in sustainability and justice.
- Barry, J. (2012). The politics of actually existing unsustainability: human flourishing in a climate-changed, carbon constrained world. Oxford University Press, USA.
- Crist, E., & Kopnina, H. (2014). Unsettling anthropocentrism. Dialectical Anthropology, 38, 387-396.
- Jinnah, S., & Nicholson, S. (2019). The hidden politics of climate engineering. Nature Geoscience, 12(11), 876-879.
- Jordan, R., Singer, F., Vaughan, J., & Berkowitz, A. (2009). What should every citizen know about ecology?. Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment, 7(9), 495-500.
- Kopnina, H. (2014). Environmental justice and biospheric egalitarianism: Reflecting on a normative-philosophical view of human-nature relationship. Earth Perspectives, 1(1), 1-11.
- Martin, A., Armijos, M. T., Coolsaet, B., Dawson, N., AS Edwards, G., Few, R., & White, C. S. (2020). Environmental justice and transformations to sustainability. Environment: Science and Policy for Sustainable Development, 62(6), 19-30.
- Pitman, S. D., Daniels, C. B., & Sutton, P. C. (2018). Characteristics associated with high and low levels of ecological literacy in a western society. International Journal of Sustainable Development & World Ecology, 25(3), 227-237.
- Roaf, S., Crichton, D., & Nicol, F. (2009). Adapting buildings and cities for climate change: a 21st century survival guide. Routledge.
- Robertson, M. (2017). Dictionary of sustainability. Taylor & Francis.
- Schlosberg, D., & Collins, L. B. (2014). From environmental to climate justice: climate change and the discourse of environmental justice. Wiley Interdisciplinary Reviews: Climate Change, 5(3), 359-374.
- Spratt, D., Dunlop, I., & Barrie, A. C. (2019). Existential climate-related security risk. A scenario approach, breakthrough.
- Tester, F. (2004). Ecology and Social Work: Toward a New Paradigm.