عنوان مقاله [English]
Introduction: According to a 2016 census, there are 62,284 small populated and unpopulated villages located throughout Iran. Such a number as well as the presence of water, soil, and agricultural production capacities in these areas doubles the need for paying attention to green ethics. Consequently, to confront environmental crises across rural areas which are more exposed to the natural environment, it is necessary to focus on a number of important ethical principles regarding the environment including conservation of natural resources, renewal of consumed resources, reduction of pollutants and wastes, development of recycling programs, optimal management of waste disposal, adherence to both national and global environmental standards, and enhancement of environment conservation indices.
It appears that the significance of the culture of using natural resources and environmental facilities and coexistence with the environment is overlooked by the current generation. Additionally, the lack of education on environmental issues has desensitized the current generation against the subject while worsening the ecological unsustainability of various geographical spaces such as rural areas. Meanwhile, in the past, rural environments used to be relatively sustainable in ecological terms, and the level of environmental sensitivity used to be higher among rural residents. The lived experiences of the author in rural areas suggest that the past behavior of rural residents, particularly in the border-adjacent, dry and deprived Khaaf County in Khorasan Razavi Province, has been intertwined with environmental sensitivities; an aspect that has lost its importance as a result of changes in villagers’ values. A few instances of this situation are the prevalence of using disposable dishes in ceremonies instead of reusable copper plates, willingness to use ready-made foods (such as tomato paste and jam) already prepared at homes, releasing dangerous detergents in farming fields, and refusing to use indigenous materials and opting for non-native construction materials. Accordingly, the main research question was posed as ‘To what extent do the rural households living in the study area adhere to green ethics?’
Methodology: The method used for the study is descriptive-analytical with applied purposes. Data collection was carried out through a combination of field and library studies. The indices and variables of the study were edited with respect to the theoretical foundations, literature reviews, and exploratory studies (interviews with local experts, rural managers and members of Islamic councils). In this research, on the basis of Likert scale., ‘green ethics’ was quantified using 39 indices divided by three dimensions of ‘human-centeredness’ with seven indices, ‘ecosystem-centeredness’ with 12 indices, and ‘God-centeredness’ with 19 indices. Cronbach’s Alpha was also used to confirm the reliability of the study’s numerous questions. Since the obtained coefficients for 38 indices were above 0.81, the reliability of the questionnaire was confirmed. Considering the fact that the data distribution was approved as normal, the one-sample t-test was used in SPSS to compare the mean value of the respondents’ assessment with the average value (Likert scale). In this study, 16 villages with the populations of over 20 households were randomly selected. Then, Cochran’s formula was used to select 235 families as the sample population followed by a random selection of the sample members in each village.
Results and Discussion: Given the significance level in the one-sample t-test, the mean value was significantly higher than the theoretical median in the three dimensions of green ethics and the construct (P-value = 0.000). Accordingly, the God-centered, human-centered, and ecosystem-centered aspects obtained the mean values of 4.06, 3.24, and 3.74 respectively, which were assessed to be in the range of medium to high. Taking into account the religious background of the residents in the region, who are mostly Sunni Muslims, and the substantial role of religion there, the God-centered aspect was found to be a higher average value than the other dimensions, with the lowest mean value belonging to the human-centered aspect. Overall, the mean value of the green ethics construct was above average (3.68). Furthermore, a significant positive correlation of average intensity was found between green ethics and its dimensions; improvement of the God-centered, human-centered, and nature-centered dimensions would increase green ethics value by 0.73, 0.65 and 0.75 respectively (P-value = 0/000).
Conclusion: Through emphasis on dos and don’ts, green ethics is an expression of how humans behave in the environment. In addition, behavioral theories also emphasize that human behavior is influenced by values, beliefs and insights. In other words, values, ethics and individual beliefs severely affect one’s decisions and actions. Such an approach calls for attention to ethical norms as one of the determinants of human interactions with nature. In this regard, certain recommendations may be made as follows:
- Considering how human-centeredness is an effective dimension to explain changes in green ethics and how such an aspect is internalized within the family, the family occupies the first position as the most effective social group in green ethics. Therefore, it deserves special attention from environment conservation programs.
- A review of educational methods and systems is essential as well. Governments and policymakers can be the trustees to introduce changes and new methods in development. The compilation of a set of environmental behaviors as a guide for human-nature interactions and instructing it to the public and students is recommended. Meanwhile, the role of media (national TV, publications, etc.) to increase public awareness and sensitivity should not be overlooked.
- Considering the necessity of the God-centered dimension in green ethics, religious preachers should enlighten the public on conserving and supporting the environment. Religious teachings can serve to enhance the adherence to ethical principles in this area as a mandatory affair in life.