Academic journal article Electronic Green Journal

Review: Grassroots of a Green Revolution: Polling America on the Environment

Academic journal article Electronic Green Journal

Review: Grassroots of a Green Revolution: Polling America on the Environment

Article excerpt

Review: Grassroots of a Green Revolution: Polling America on the Environment By Deborah Lynn Guber Deborah Lynn Guber. Grassroots of a Green Revolution: Polling America on the Environment. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2003. 328 pp. ISBN 0-262- 57160-9 (trade paper). US$24.95

What does America think about the environment a generation after the first Earth Day? It was in 1970, and it was the year Lake Erie died. Fast forward to the 21st century and in America concern for the environment seems to be everywhere. The federal government, the states, and many localities have an agency dedicated to environmental protection. The word green appears on packaging, on building plans, and on candidates for public office. And while many still don't care much about the ring-headed newt that only inhabits 300 acres between Yeehaw and Holopaw, people quickly radicalize if everyone in town seems to be getting cancer or the children are developing gastroenteritis. Before considering other possibilities, they cast a suspicious eye on emissions from the local factory or fear pollution in their wells from that smelly operation down the road.

But is it a real national consensus, a meeting of minds on how we feel about the protection of our planet? Or is it little more than lip service? This is what Guber sets out to explore in this book, using her knowledge of statistics and polling.

The book is divided into two broad sections: attitudes and behavior. In the section on attitudes Guber looks at such questions as: Do Americans favor environmental protection? How much? In tackling these questions, she explains basic polling concepts: what is "good" data, what is "bad", and how questions can be framed to pre-select the response. The end of this section deals with the apparent inconsistency of America's commitment to environmental protection. Guber discusses some technical aspects of information gathering and how these can seem to give a picture of inconsistency in poll responses.

That chapter concluding section one sets the stage for section two, on behavior. In this section, Guber puts her knowledge to use dissecting why Americans seem to buy green but fail to vote green, including a discussion of the Bush vs. …

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