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Environmental Problems Globally

From Perception to Reaction

Daniel Lachmann

Human behavior causes environmental problems which, in turn, affect people and whole societies. The author elaborates the role of the public in the discourse about environmental protection. As the public consists of socio-economic, legal and political actors, the behavior of those actors is of significance. With a thorough analysis of the International Social Survey Programme, this book illustrates the rocky road from the perception of environmental threats to the reaction toward them. Combining a constructivist and rational choice perspective, the author points out that there are distinctive differences between individual countries in the perception, evaluation as well as in the reaction toward environmental issues. Neither is there a uniform path from perception to reaction, nor exists a one-size-fits-all-solution.
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8. Concluding remarks


“When it does not take an act of Congress for people to significantly act upon climate change, then perhaps we will have begun to turn the tide” (Lejano et al. 2013, p. 69). In the same vein, the overall question of the present study is how to better get people involved in the protection of the environment, for themselves and future generations, not as a mere function of parliament enactments but as proactive socio-economic, political and legal actors. Therefore, first and foremost, some practical conclusions can also be drawn from the study at hand.

The descriptive inspection of the salience of environmental issues shows that there are some country particularities. The country-specific features need to be incorporated into environmental policies when public actors try to include people’s point of view on environmental topics. They need to build on the attitudes and should not work against them (Heberlein 2012, pp. 140–148). Is there a disparity between objective environmental problems and their subjective perception? Or are there objective problems that also are perceived to be a problem? Taking such and similar questions into account will help a decision-maker to know which problem to address first. To give an example, the analysis underlines that politicians or power companies can count on broad support for renewable energies in the population on which they can built energy policies or management strategies. Likewise, climate change is considered the second-most important environmental problem across the six countries, with country-specific variation, and again,...

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