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Technische Universität Wien (2022)

The Impact of Emotions on Climate Action on the Example of the Aral Sea Case Study in Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan

Kaschowitz, Sabrina

Titre : The Impact of Emotions on Climate Action on the Example of the Aral Sea Case Study in Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan

Auteur : Kaschowitz, Sabrina

Université de soutenance : Technische Universität Wien

Grade : Master Thesis 2022

The aim of this study is to examine how the personal experience of massive human-induced irreversible environmental changes affects individuals’ hopes in the face of theglobal climate change threat and their perceptions of the effectiveness of environmental activism and the contribution they can make in this context.Emotions and personal storytelling are currently under-represented in climate changeresearch neglecting their important role as a source for climate change communica tio nand mobilization. Climate change is often encountered as an abstract scientific conceptthat does not take into account local realities and experiences. This is why this study triesto draw a link between rational and abstract information about environmental degradat ionand climate change and emotionally charged local narrations to get a better understand ingon how to include people’s lived realities into climate change communication andactivism. Such an approach forms the basis for the development of locally acceptedmeasures and thereby is, in addition to technical and scientific considerations, animportant factor for the sustainable implementation of environmental measures.The Aral Sea region is a good case study in this context because the desiccation ofthe Aral Sea is known as one of the most severe human-induced ecological disasters ofthe 20th century. It is also a very climate- vulnerable region : the region’s water supplyheavily depends on the limited water resources available and its capacity to reduce thedamage induced by the Aral Sea desiccation. In addition, the Aral Sea region includestwo countries, Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan, which have developed largely differe ntapproaches to deal with the disaster consequences. This is why they are found applicablefor a comparison of local perceptions.The study includes six qualitative interviews conducted with locals in Uzbekistanand Kazakhstan. The results show that hope and climate action can be activated even inecologically damaged regions where the local population witnessed irrevers ib leanthropogenic interventions in the environment. It is an experience that can fostercreativity to find new solutions in the understanding that ecosystems and human beingsare capable of adapting to new living conditions. However, it can also cause resignatio nand hopelessness in the light of the inaction of actors who are perceived to have morepotential power to take action. In this light, storytelling and good examples of localenvironmental activism can serve to counteract individuals’ feelings of powerlessnessand reactivate hope that their contributions can make a difference.


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