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Looking back on nation's history can lead to greener future: Research

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A new research has revealed that looking back on the nation's history can prompt action that can lead to a greener future.

Researchers at the NYU, Hal Hershfield and colleagues H. Min Bang and Elke U. Weber of Columbia University revealed that a strong way to encourage environmentally-friendly behavior is to emphasize the long life expectancy of a nation, and not necessarily its imminent downfall.

The researchers analyzed the environmental records of 131 countries, based on environmental indicators like air pollution, clean water, biodiversity, and habitat protection and found that the environmental performance of a country was linked with its age as an independent nation, the older the nation, the higher it was on the index.

The researchers also conducted a lab-based study to analyse if a sense of a long national history might increase citizens' confidence that their nation would endure, leading to a concern for protecting the nation over the long-term.

The study found that participants who were led to have an elongated sense of American history donated significantly more money to an environmental organization than participants who were led to view the US as a younger country.

Hershfield said that the research suggests to rely less on end-of-world scenarios and to emphasize instead the various ways in which our country has a rich and long history that deserves to be preserved.

He added that by highlighting the shadow of the past, we may actually help illuminate the path to an environmentally sustainable future.

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