The environmental movement is making a difference – nudging greenhouse gas emissions down in states with strong green voices, according to a Michigan State University (MSU) study.
Social scientist Thomas Dietz and Kenneth Frank, MSU Foundation professor of sociometrics, have teamed up to find a way to tell if a state jumping on the environmental bandwagon can mitigate other human factors – population growth and economic affluence – known to hurt the environment.
“We’ve used new methods developed over the years and new innovations Ken has developed to add in the politics – and find that politics and environmentalism can mediate some environmental impact,” Dietz said. “Environmentalism seems to influence policies and how well policies that are in place are actually implemented and it also influences individual behavior and the choices people make.”
The study, in this week’s Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, shows a state-level win for environmental activism that hasn’t been apparent on a national scale.
The authors compared greenhouse gas emissions between all 50 U.S. states and within each state over time going back to 1990, and determined how emissions correlated with population, gross state product per capita, employment rate, and environmentalism. They calculated environmentalism by the environmental voting record of a state’s congressional delegation, as rated by the League of Conservation Voters.