In states with strong environmental movements, greenhouse gas emissions are inching lower.
Social scientist Thomas Dietz and Kenneth Frank, professor of sociometrics at Michigan State University, have teamed up to find a way to tell if a state jumping on the environmental bandwagon can mitigate other human factors—such as population growth and economic affluence—that are 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 says.
“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.”
VOTERS AND ENVIRONMENTAL STRESS
The study, published in the 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 US 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.