Concluding Comments

In an article based on her 1997 presidential address to the American Association of the Advancement of Science, Lubchenco (1998), who referred to the coming century as the century of the environment, proposed a new social contract for science predicated upon the assumptions that scientists will (i) address the most urgent needs of society, in proportion to their importance (ii) communicate their knowledge and understanding widely in order to inform decisions of individuals and institutions and...

Policy Formulation And Decision Making

Policy formulation is a human activity undertaken by individuals and groups in positions of authority. It depends on human perception and cognition, and consequently it is subject to all the limitations of perceptual and cognitive processes. Because it often involves negotiations among people representing different, perhaps conflicting, perspectives and interests, it is also affected by the dynamics of group behavior (Portney, 1991b). Policy formulation and decision making with respect to...

Negotiation And Conflict Resolution

The problem of protecting the environment is an intrinsically difficult one because many of the more obvious steps that might be taken to that end conflict, or at least appear to conflict, with economic interests and the goal of industrial development. Debates about public policy pertaining to environmental issues often become highly polarized with environmentalists and developers taking equally inflexible stands on opposite sides of the question. Conflicts also arise between groups that appear...

Social Dilemma Research

Much of the research on social dilemmas has used computer simulations or other laboratory analogues of real-life problems (Brechner & Linder, 1981 Cass & Edney, 1978 Dawes, 1975,1980 Edney & Harper, 1978 Fusco, Bell, Jorgensen, & Smith, 1991 Gifford & Wells, 1991 ). A major goal of this research has been to distinguish the conditions under which people will cooperate or behave in ways that advance the common good from those in which they will compete or work strictly in their own...

Dealing With Social Dilemmas

Various ways to deal with the commons dilemma or facilitate escape from social traps have been proposed. Hardin (1968) saw only two feasible approaches socialism or the privatism of free enterprise. His own preference was for a social pact among users of the common resource, provided agreement could be obtained on rules for use and sanctions for cheating. The possibility of privatizing partitioning the commons into smaller units, each of which is used by only a subset of the population has...

The Nature Of Social Dilemmas

The detrimental effects of behavior that characterizes the tragedy of the commons (Hardin, 1968) in its numerous guises establishes the importance of developing a better understanding of the conditions under which cooperative behavior relating to problems of general interest can be evoked and sustained. Hardin illustrated the conflict that can occur between self-interest and the common good in what must be one of the most widely cited articles ever published about the environment. According to...

Competition Cooperation Negotiation and Policymaking

_Lhe problem of detrimental environmental change is everyone's problem. It does not follow that everyone recognizes it as such or that everyone is naturally motivated to do what he or she can to help solve it. Real progress on the problem will require cooperative behavior at all levels among individuals, communities, and nations. For this reason, research on competition, cooperation, and negotiation should have important implications for making policy with respect to environmental issues.

Tradeoff Analyses

Closely associated with cost-benefit analysis is the concept of trade-offs. The idea is that, to realize or increase one good, one must be willing to forego or decrease another. An illustration of the need to understand trade-offs better relates to energy consumption. Perhaps most people would agree that the rate of growth of energy use worldwide should be slowed at least so long as energy is produced and used in ways that have detrimental environmental effects. Yet how to achieve a sustainable...

In Costbenefit Analysis

As MacLean (1990) pointed out, although society considers each of the various benefits on which environmental preservation programs are focused to be valuable, there has yet to be developed a satisfactory way to weight them on a common metric, and the underlying issues are not strictly economic but ethical The appropriateness of discounting the value of future lives, the application of benefit-cost analysis as a method of setting environmental policies more generally, and other issues that...

The Controversial Nature Of Costbenefit Analysis

There are wide differences of opinion with regard to the specifics of how cost-benefit analyses should be conducted and their results applied. According to the Hammond and Coppock (1990) report, there is no single approach or set of methods for cost-benefit analysis now in use in any federal regulatory agency with responsibility for health and safety (p. 9). A major challenge, therefore, is the development of approaches to cost-benefit analyses, and rationales for those approaches, that will be...

The Difficulty Of Quantifying Benefits

The quantification of benefits can also be extremely difficult. Sometimes benefits are overlooked completely. Much attention has been given in this book and elsewhere to fossil fuel-burning motor vehicles as a primary source of air pollution, but it is easy to overlook that replacement of horsedrawn vehicles with motor cars in the United States during the early part of the 20th century brought some nontrivial benefits in addition to increased mobility. Horses were a major source of pollution in...

Human Response To Risk

Let us ignore for the moment the daunting problem of ensuring the correspondence of perceived and actual risks. Rather, let us consider the question of whether people typically respond appropriately to risks as they are represented by incidence statistics, say and, if not, what might be done to encourage more appropriate behavior. For present purposes, appropriate is given the narrow connotation of consistency with one's self-interest One is said to be responding appropriately when one selects...

Behavior As A Cause Of Environmental Change

Although research on the question of what can be done to address the problem of detrimental environmental change has not been the primary focus of environmental psychology, psychological work has been published that relates directly or indirectly to this question. The assessment of attitudes regarding the natural environment, attempts to determine how to increase participation in energy conservation or recycling programs, and efforts to identify causes of environmentally destructive industrial...

Limitations Of Expert Opinion

That experts can and often do disagree on matters pertaining to their areas of expertise is obvious. Among the topics that relate to environmental change, none has evoked more debate among experts than that of greenhouse wanning. Although many perhaps most Earth and atmospheric scientists consider the possibility of gradually increasing temperature to be a real and serious threat, the opposite opinion has been strongly expressed and a spirited debate has occurred Ellsaesser, 1991 Kerr, 1989...

Problems In Quantifying Risk

Quantitative risk assessment is an imprecise and controversial activity Cohrssen amp Covello, 1989 Fischhoff, 1977 Krimsky amp Golding, 1991 Primack, 1975 Sjoberg, 1980 . It is an example of the problem of estimation of probabilistic variables more generally. When frequency-of-incidence data exist in sufficient quantity, they may be used as the basis for risk estimates. This approach is effective for certain purposes, such as the setting of premiums for insurance against specific eventualities....

The Problem

Is there a problem Is the prospect of environmental change and in particular change resulting from human activities that would make the planet significantly less hospitable to human or other life as we know it a genuine threat Is there a real basis for concern There are many who would answer no to these questions. Ray and Guzzo 1994 provided an extensive list of pointers to writers who take this position, either with respect to environmental change in general or to specific alleged...

Failure To Recycle

Many communities have established recycling facilities and programs. Provisions vary from recycling centers, to which people can bring specified materials for disposal, to curbside pickup of recyclable trash on a regularly scheduled basis Milner, 1989 . Some curbside pickup programs require the recyclable trash to be separated before pickup into several categories e.g., paper, glass, metals, plastics , others permit all types to be commingled, and some require intermediate degrees of...

Improper Waste Disposal

The improper disposal of waste material has received considerable attention from the media in recent years. Stories that make the news tend to be those that involve incidents of illegal dumping of toxic wastes by one or another industrial or military establishment. There have been many of them, including several that have led to class-action suits against the alleged polluters. The pollution of waterways by the discharge of raw or inadequately treated sewage and waste products from industrial...

Importance Of Commitment

Several studies have demonstrated the importance of an overt commitment to an environmental program as a means of ensuring participation in the program Bachman amp Katzev, 1982 Becker, 1978 Burn amp Oskamp, 1986 DeLeon amp Fuqua, 1995 Katzev amp Johnson, 1983, 1984 Katzev amp Pardini, 1987-1988 Katzev amp Wang, 1994 Pallak, Cook, amp Sullivan, 1980 Pallak amp Cummings, 1976 Pardini amp Katzev, 1983-1984 Van Houwelingen amp Van Raaij, 1989 Wang amp Katzev, 1990 . Commitment is of course a matter...

Antilittering Campaigns

Psychologists have tried to determine why people litter, and many organized attempts have been made to decrease the incidence of this type of behavior Finnie, 1973 Huffman, Grossnickle, Cope, amp Huffman, 1995 Krauss, Freed-man, amp Whitcup, 1978 Robinson, 1976 . Why people litter is not entirely clear, but apparently the perceived acceptability of littering by peers plays some role inasmuch as people are more likely to litter in an already littered area than in a clean one Cialdini, Kallgren,...

Consumer Behavior

The term consumer is a misnomer we consume little of what we purchase or otherwise acquire. More typically we use something for a while, possibly transforming it in one way or another in the process of wearing it out, and eventually dispose of it as waste. But consumer is the word used to refer to people who purchase, or use, goods and services, and consumption is the term used to denote the behavior in which consumers, as consumers, engage, so those are the terms used here. Consumer behavior...

T

X he writing of this book was motivated by the belief that psychology has much to contribute to solving the problem of detrimental environmental change but that what the field has to offer has been realized only to a small degree to date. Some of the opportunities for psychological research that is relevant to the problem have been pursued, but much more could be done if the problem were higher on the priority list for the psychological research community as a whole. My hope was to stimulate...

Increasing Recycling

Although a majority of Americans express favorable attitudes toward recycling Dunlap amp Scarce, 1991 , the amount of material recycled in the United States falls far short of what is considered possible. People fail to participate in recycling programs for a variety of reasons, including indifference and the perceived nuisance of doing so Howenstine, 1993 Vining amp Ebreo, 1990 Vining, Linn, amp Burdge, 1992 . Several studies have shown that logistic factors, such as the design and placement...

Alternative Ways Of Satisfying Needs And Desires

I may say that I would like the temperature in my house to be at about 70 in the winter. What I really want is for the house to be a comfortable place, and I say I would like the temperature to be such and so because I believe that to be essential to comfort. If I could be convinced that it could be made quite comfortable at a lower temperature, through the manipulation of other variables such as relative humidity, air circulation, and choice of clothing, I...

Practice Of Nonsustainable Agriculture

Agriculture in the United States and some other industrialized countries has been an unparalleled success story from some points of view. The productivity of the average U.S. farm worker has steadily increased as the fraction of the working population required to produce more than enough food for the entire nation has steadily decreased from about 70 during the middle of the 19th century to less than 3 today. One hundred and seventy years ago, the average farm worker produced enough food and...

Peer Pressure And Social Norms

The power of peer pressure to influence individual behavior is well documented in the social psychology literature. People's behavior, as it relates to environmental change, is influenced by the behavior of their peers and social norms what they perceive to be acceptable to others Black, Stern, amp Elworth, 1985 Cialdini, Reno, amp Kallgren, 1990 Darley, 1978 Jones, 1990 Kahle amp Beatty, 1987 Stern, Dietz, amp Black, 1986 Vining amp Ebreo, 1990 . Social approval and disapproval can play roles...

Expert Versus Lay Perceptions Of Risk

Several studies have shown disparities between the perceived riskiness of specific situations and the actual riskiness of those situations as reflected in incidence statistics Lichtenstein, Slovic, Fischhoff, Layman, amp Combs, 1978 Litai, Lanning, amp Rasmussen, 1983 Slovic, Fischhoff, amp Lichtenstein, 1979 . Other studies have shown that the general public perceives environmental risks differently, in many cases, than do the experts Bell, Fisher, Baum, amp Greene, 1990 Burton, Kates, amp...

Decreasing Biodiversity

The vast majority of those that have existed at one time or another are now extinct Jablonski, 1991 . However, except for the possibility of a few catastrophic prehistoric events that could have caused major extinctions, it is generally believed that, until fairly recently, species changed gradually over periods of time measured in millions of years. Raup 1988 estimated the natural not catastrophe-related extinction rate to be about 107 species per species per year. The...

Unnecessary Release Of Toxic Materials

Toxic materials are released to the soil, water, or air by many industrial processes. Until quite recently, information regarding who was releasing what was not readily available to the general public or even, in many cases, to policymakers. This situation was changed by the Emergency Planning and Community Right-To-Know Act of 1986, which requires that the Environmental Protection Agency prepare annually a Toxic Release Inventory that reports the amount of toxic material released by each...

Overutilization Of Other Natural Resources

More nonfuel mineral resources have been consumed worldwide during the half century since the end of World War II than during all preceding human history Wellmer amp Kursten, 1992 . Whether this should be considered overutilization can be debated because estimates of remaining reserves are crude and have tended to increase along with consumption Hodges, 1995 . However, it seems clear that a rapidly accelerating rate of consumption cannot continue indefinitely, although projected population...

Reducing Waste Production

Increasing recycling is unquestionably a worthy objective from an environmental point of view. At least as important an objective, but one that has not received as much attention from researchers, is that of decreasing the production of waste in the first place DeYoung, 1993 Durning, 1992 West, Lee, amp Feiock, 1992 . The Municipal Solid Waste Source Reduction and Recycling Act of 1989 focuses on reducing waste at its source and on recycling as the preferred approaches to solid waste...

Contamination From Industrial Accidents

In addition to the immediate costs they incur in terms of injury, death, and property loss, industrial accidents sometimes have environmental consequences that last a long time. Major accidents like the nuclear-reactor incidents at Three Mile Island and Chernobyl, the chemical plant emissions in Bophal, and the oil spill from the Exxon Valdez make news headlines and get a great deal of attention as they should. What may have greater long-term implications for the environment, however, are the...

Overreliance On Fossil Fuels

The major sources of energy have changed dramatically during the last century or so. Wood was the dominant source before the 20th century. In industrialized countries, wood gave way to coal, which in many places eventually gave way to oil. Estimates of what percentage of the world's total energy expenditure comes from the burning of fossil fuels vary somewhat, but are in agreement that it is high. Davis 1990 gave 78 Gibbons, Blair, and Gwin 1989 gave 88 . McKibben 1990 said simply, Over the...