Ecological intelligence. How do your actions affect the planet?

28 Aug 2021

Information is key: who made our clothes, how long does it take for a product to degrade or local alternatives to what we order online are things that we should all know about.

There is no single intelligence. In recognition of the different capacities of the human mind, the American psychologist Howard Gardner developed the theory of multiple intelligences in 1983. His innovative model for understanding how we think detected seven types of intelligences, ranging from logical-mathematical to verbal, through bodily and even musical. Years later, partly due to the growing environmental crisis, he was forced to add a new intelligence: the naturalistic one. According to the Harvard University researcher, we use this intelligence when we observe the natural elements that are around us and interact with them.

In addition to the shower of memes that it unleashed, the episode of the capybaras in Nordelta also served to test Gardner’s theory: we do not all use the same intelligence when thinking about the environment. While some treated these rodents as “squatters” for invading urban areas, others defended the ecosystem value of the species and argued that capybaras were displaced from their natural habitat – the wetlands – precisely for the construction of the private neighborhoods that today they are accused of trespassing. Even the most insightful took advantage of the capybara-gate to demand that the wetlands bill be given treatment, which after so many postponements could lose parliamentary status in 2021.

The need to develop a mentality that takes into account environmental variables in decision-making is one of the most urgent points on the sustainable agenda.

Another renowned author to address the subject was the international bestseller Daniel Goleman. After shaking up the publishing market by introducing the concept of emotional intelligence, he published a second book, Ecological Intelligence, which went unnoticed at the time but is still in effect today. For Goleman, the solution to big problems like climate change is to know the hidden consequences of our habits. “Our world of material abundance has a hidden price. We do not know to what extent the things we buy and use carry other costs, such as the damage they cause to the planet and to people ”, warns the author. And he adds: “Consumers and businesses can no longer afford not to thoroughly examine decisions regarding these products and processes, as well as their ecological consequences.”

Is it possible to exercise ecological intelligence and start making environmentally friendly decisions? Although there are biological and cultural factors that determine it, experts say that this mentality can be strengthened. The key, they say, is in the information. By understanding the environmental impact of our actions, we can begin to mitigate them. “If we do not know part of the problem, we will not be able to be part of the solution. The way we consume and the production models that generate the environmental crisis are two sides of the same coin. If we change our consumption habits towards those with less environmental impact, the supply of brands and companies will inevitably adapt to be in tune with this demand. As consumers, we have a lot of power, “says Dafna Nudelman, sustainability specialist and activist for responsible consumption.

However, we do not always have the right information to make more conscious decisions. “The consumer does not have the necessary tools. There is still a lot of opacity in the information to achieve responsible consumption ”, adds Nudelman.

For this reason, as responsible consumers, we must always ask ourselves the necessary questions before making a purchase: Do we know who made our clothes? How long does it take for the product we buy to degrade? Is there a local alternative to what we are ordering online? What was the carbon footprint of our trip?

Meanwhile, there are signs that this more sustainable approach could be gaining traction. According to a recent nationwide survey carried out by the Fundación Vida Silvestre, more and more Argentines are interested in caring for nature. 70% of those surveyed acknowledged being aware of the consumption of the planet’s resources and its relationship with the environment. On the podium of concerns are deforestation and fires, waste management and the extinction of species. Fertile ground to enhance ecological intelligence.

Source: La Nacion