Isolated Ecuadorian Communities and Environmental Perspective

Much of the current conversation around climate change and environmentalism involves the concept of environmental equality. On a global scale, developing countries have little voice in the international discourse on conservation, despite often being the first to feel the effects of climate change. This inequality is further exacerbated at the local level, as vulnerable populations with little education and economic affluence are disproportionately affected by environmental issues, and lack the resources to appropriately address mitigation options. Anthropological literature consistently demonstrates the interconnectedness of level of education, economic status, and perception of global environmental degradation. In a study of several secluded groups in Ecuador, I will investigate how this dynamic of education and financial position interplay with geographic isolation in a person’s relationship with the environmental movement.

Over the course of seven weeks, I will interact with, interview, and observe four focus groups in Ecuador that reflect distinctions in environmental efficacy on a global scale. The four groups vary from highly educated biologists working in wild animal rehabilitation in Puyo, local fishermen who protest conservation regulation in the Galapagos, to an indigenous family that operates a research facility in the Amazon.

I will live and work alongside the groups when permitted, in order to better understand their daily interactions with the natural world, and the way this relationship with nature may affect their perspective on environmental change. In addition, I will be interviewing each member of the focus groups to get an accurate picture of their social and economic background, and their views on environmental problems and solutions. Primarily, this will involve gauging how critical they see both local and global environmental issues, whether they perceive those issues as directly impacting them, and their level of self-efficacy in current efforts to mitigate those issues. Each of the four groups offers a unique background, which will contribute to the understanding of how an individual or group determines their view on the global environmental movement, climate change, and the role they play within this dynamic.



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