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Global environmental problems are often the aggregated effect of behavior: Geography Assignment, UCC, Ireland

Abstract
Global environmental problems are often the aggregated effect of behavior by individuals, but is persuading people individually to change their behavior useful for addressing these problems? Understanding why it is that people behave individually in ways that have collectively problematic environmental effects is key to understanding what works—and doesn’t work—to change this individual behavior. This article argues that because of the problem characteristics and social structures that underpin largescale environmental problems, a focus on trying to persuade people to behave in ways that are less environmentally problematic is ineffective at best and possibly even counterproductive. Instead we should focus on changing systems and structures to provide incentives, routines, and contexts in which we can simultaneously change the behavior of large groups of people, whether or not their behavior change is undertaken intentionally for environmental benefit.

Environmental activists concerned about global problems like climate change,
ozone depletion, or deforestation often try to persuade individuals to change
their behavior. That focus may seem misguided: any one person has an almost
unimaginably small effect on a global environmental problem. The global climate system will not even notice your decision to take public transportation
instead of driving, nor your effort to turn down your thermostat and wear an
extra sweater, to decrease your greenhouse gas emissions. Michael Maniates
(2001) argues that “individualization” of environmental problems incorrectly
places the responsibility for the causes of environmental problems onto individual behavior, when individual choices are powerless to prevent or address environmental problems.

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