For centuries, anthropologists have studied human interactions and habits in order to draw conclusions on what makes the human race tick. We now know that human reactions and decisions are constantly shaped by particular understandings which influence our interpretations. As we read in Wapner’s “Greenpeace and Political Globalism,” one of Greenpeace’s leading goals is to target such understandings in order to reshape interpretations of the environment which will then lead to sustainable actions. Some critics not only question Greenpeace’s tactics–which can be seen as extreme–but also this philosophy that a simple shift in mindset can lead to visible and long-term change. Although Greenpeace activists protest nuclear energy and infiltrate a DuPont plant–which are all considered and seen as actions–critics demand clear and immediate alterations in every cultural sphere, and not just a weak promise to think about that bottle before tossing it into the trash.
However, other environmental activists support this philosophy. Natalie Jeremijenko is the director of xDesign Environmental Health Clinic at NYU which creates innovative solutions to environmental issues. Her solutions combine biological, social, and engineering tactics which engage the average consumer and simulates the direct and indirect impact one has on the environment. For example, the ‘tadpole bureaucrat protocol’ allows an individual to care for a tadpole and understand how this organism with extremely sensitive biosenses responds to contaminants, or endocrine disruptors. As you raise this tadpole–take it on walks and introduce it to friends–it becomes a member of the community and develops an identity, so much so that if (and when) its health is negatively impact by environmental toxins, it creates a wave of reaction. This is the power of a mindset.