How much is too much? A public opinion research perspective

Tom Bowerman PolicyInteractive, Institute for Sustainability Education and Ecology, tom)

Abstract: Climate-change research suggests that civilization and its ecological underpinnings may face catastrophe without profound changes in our collective cultural behavior. Yet, meaningful policy responses seem largely insufficient. This article describes a body of original research from the state of Oregon in the United States aimed at uncovering alternative pathways around the current stalemate. Drawing from sixteen studies conducted from 2008 to 2012, I find evidence of strong grassroots attitudinal support for reducing consumption, with agreement in the 70–88% range. Broad cultural agreement about excess consumption bridges ideological divisions regarding climate change. Seeing climate change as a symptom of the underlying problem—consumption—may reveal new solutions. The studies find deconsumption policy support to be marginal and at odds with policy-leadership views favoring economic growth. However, this work observes evidence of grassroots, consume-less attitudes and behavior despite ongoing policy to stimulate growth. The article discusses motivations, barriers, dissonance, and behavior about lowering consumption.

http://sspp.proquest.com/archives/vol10iss1/1209-044.bowerman.html

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