North American Environmentalism and Political Integration

By Kanji, Mebs | American Review of Canadian Studies, Summer 1996 | Go to article overview

North American Environmentalism and Political Integration

Kanji, Mebs, American Review of Canadian Studies


Recent scholarship suggests that, over the last decade or so, North Americans have undergone a widescale convergence in values: Americans, Canadians, and Mexicans have become more alike. (Nevitte and Inglehart 1993; Nevitte 1996, 1994; Inglehart, Nevitte, and Basanez 1996). The recent ratification of NAFTA, furthermore, marks a significant turning point for North American relations; it shows that while citizens of these three countries may not be ready to do away with political borders entirely, they are indeed willing to formalize closer economic ties. Taken together, these two fundamental changes--the formalization of closer economic ties and a broad-based convergence in values--suggest that political integration in North America may now be more likely. (1)

Here I follow this line of inquiry by asking: What role do attitudes toward the environment play in shaping North American orientations toward political integration? To date, the most vigorous variant of this argument comes from Caldwell, who argues that environmental issues, because of their nature, cannot be dealt with effectively within the confines of national boundaries: acid rain and air pollution, for instance, have consequences that extend beyond national borders. Consequently, "from an ecological perspective political boundaries and political programs are characteristically seen as artificial often unwisely obstructing or disrupting natural relationships" (1985, 207). Ecological deterioration is likely to affect all North Americans, regardless of their nationality, and dealing effectively with such issues may require a continental outlook, one that may inevitably push North Americans to unite and work together in an even broader global environmental context.

But intriguing as Caldwell's argument may be, there are also other, more substantive reasons for examining the prospective link between environmentalism and the possibility of North American political integration. For one thing, a number of recent public opinion polls suggest that public support for environmental issues is on the rise (OECD 1982; 1986; 1991); people in advanced industrial states unequivocally approve of both the environmental movement and its basic goal of environmental protection (Dunlap and Van Liere 1978; Dunlap 1992; Dunlap, Gallup G., and Gallup, A. 1993; Mertig and Dunlap 1995; Dalton 1988, 1994; Milbrath 1984, 1989; Hofrichter and Reif 1990; Skrentny 1993; Worcester 1993). (2) And, while environmentalism may be prevalent throughout most of the Western world, Hay and Haward contend that publics in North America seem particularly concerned: "There is a sense in which North American and Antipodean developments are ultimately more fundamental than those that have occurred in Europe" (1988, 433). Indeed, if they are accurate in characterizing North Americans as especially biocentric, then it is even more imperative that we pay closer attention to Caldwell's earlier argument, as well as to North American environmentalism more generally. (3)

The following analysis is divided into two parts, both of which rely heavily on broad-gauged national survey evidence from the 1990 World Values Surveys. (4) The first part begins by focusing exclusively on Caldwell's argument. More particularly, the central question here is: Do North Americans who are concerned about the environment also support the proposition of "doing away with political borders?" Indeed, the findings in this case are remarkable: in all three North American countries, more than half of Americans, Canadians, and Mexicans support the idea of "doing away with political borders" if it means that "we would be able to deal more effectively with environmental issues like acid rain and pollution" (World Values Surveys 1990). Surely, then, such findings also call for a more sustained examination of North American environmental orientations. Consequently, in the second part of this essay, I explore North American environmentalism in more detail, focusing on its breadth, its determinants, and its depth. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • A full archive of books and articles related to this one
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Cite this article

Cited article

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)


1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25,

Cited article

North American Environmentalism and Political Integration


Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25,

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

    Already a member? Log in now.