Climate change can be a very abstract topic for most people, especially for children. People like to see concrete examples that are in the present. Future catastrophic events are hard to picture and understand. They are already threatening to happen due to global warming. When living creatures are seen to be suffering now, it attracts people’s attention instantly. They can see a soul fighting for its life and that is by no means abstract.
Plants as a part of nature are completely different to animals because they can’t move, show your love to you and it’s impossible to communicate with them in some way or pet them. This creates a sense of human carelessness towards nature. If we littered around and saw a dog choke on a plastic bag, we would think twice about littering next time.
A good example of helping creatures is people that have pets. Usually the relationship between a human and a pet is said to be symbiotic. When they spend time together the hormone oxytocin is released, creating a healthier mental state for both the person and the animal. Taking care of a pet creates a similar feeling to taking care of a child.
A strange observation of humans even indicates that we have more empathy for animals than other humans. A study conducted in 2017 by criminologist Jack Levin presented people with a piece of news where an adult man was suffering with multiple broken limbs. Then they changed the adult man to a one year old baby, then a six year old dog, then a puppy. Turns out that the people felt the most empathy for the other three cases and much less for the adult man.
Empathy is an important feeling in humans. Using the fact that people are empathetic towards animals to spread awareness about climate change may be effective. Especially children treat animals as a great figure of support. They can even consider them their best friend, much like the excitement they get while playing around with toys and watching cartoon characters embark on different adventures.
Empathy for nature is most definitely the main issue in this worldwide issue. However, educating people, especially children about the large amount of endangered species can be beneficial for the fight against climate change. By creating a personal connection between humans and animals the dilemma won’t remain so abstract anymore.
Endangered species in Serbia
Apollo butterfly is a beautiful insect that is very sensitive to changes. It reproduces only once a year and during the winter it goes into hibernation. They usually show up around rocks, because they are not able to camouflage in other environments.
Eastern imperial eagle
There is possibly only one pair left of this eagle in Serbia. It lives in tall trees, but it is also very sensitive to changes and intruders.
The marbled polecat is at risk of extinction because of its ruined habitat. The mother carries around 6-8 ferrets, and she usually bares them in March when the surroundings are the most safe. She carries them between 243 and 327 days.
When the griffon vulture is born, it is completely featherless. With time, brown colored feathers show up around the neck area and white on the rest of the body. At least a third of its day is spent in the air. Both parents take care of their child, especially during feeding. Pairs stay together through their entire lifetime. They have really good eyesight and they live about thirty years. They feed themselves with dead animals, however, they don’t tend to personally hunt them down.
The alpine salamander is completely capable of a completely independent life on land. They live about ten years. They are incredibly poisonous which make them a threat towards predators.
Where do we go from here?
WWF utilizes the empathy people feel towards animals. People are actually able to “adopt” a polar bear and as a result they recieve an entire kit including an adoption certificate and a polar bear plushie. It is a smart way of collecting donations for nature conservation work and building empathy towards endangered animals at the same time. Perhaps, this could be done in every country for its local endangered animals as well.
Moreover, creating story books for children with these animals as main characters can also help with the problem. Expressing these issues through any art form and entertainment can change the perceptions of people towards the importance of protecting endangered animals. . An interesting example for this can be the heightened interest in playing chess that appeared to be after the success of the limited series “The Queen’s Gambit” on Netflix.
If we manage to incorporate this kind of awareness in child education and social media, people’s attention will most likely be caught. From this step we as activists can move on to building empathy towards the environment and finally towards the world. It would require some time, but if we work on it people will slowly introduce this idea into their subconscious minds.