If you think about it, people who advocate better environmental policy tend to be at least financially secure enough to know where their next meal is coming from. I’ve found that people who worry about how they will pay for groceries and rent don’t tend to be too bothered about their carbon footprint.
This is a good point. Doing so would also replicate the behavior of many Third World countries, who do not wish to tie themselves to pro-environment or carbon-reducing agreements for fear of hampering their fragile economy’s development.
Not at all. The poor are most exposed to pollution, so generally they are also most concerned about environmentalism. They just don’t lead environmentalist organizations, because they don’t have the free time, connections, or financial resources of the rich.
Indeed, I think it can both ways. Although it is true that concern for the environment is most obvious amongst the ‘liberal elite’ who have some money, it’s also true that they are the least likely to see it’s impacts. I live in a nice picturesque village in England, and the well-off local inhabitants are very opposed to any renewable energy that may ‘spoil the wonderful views’. They also have multiple cars, and thus dont want fuel tax put up, and generally don’t see pollution as a problem because frankly there isn’t any here. I’m sure that is different in the poorest parts of overcrowded cities.
I can see two effects at play here, possibly (I would suggest) cancelling out. We really need to see demographic data from freinds of the earth to know the truth If anyone has any surveys or data that marries income -> conern about the environment I’d be very interested to see it.
I did do some “research” [Googling] and found an academic paper titled Democracy, Income, and Environmental Quality. I’m not sure how incredibly helpful this is, but the study concluded that economic growth in developing and developed nations first raises but then dramatically decreases pollution levels over time. The reasons the researchers give indeed involve the environmental awareness of a nation’s citizens along with its industrial regulations and its trade policies. Gallagher & Thacker proposed that as “income levels increase, newly affluent citizens may demand (and be able to afford) a cleaner environment.” (2008). This paper suggests that the higher a democratic country’s GDP, the more likely they will be to have environmentally conscious citizens.
I do see the point that those in poverty are more concerned with where their next meal is coming from and not how it’s being farmed. They care more about having heat and power than whether it’s coming from the burning of dirty fossil fuels or the wind & sun. They usually don’t make any choices based on sourcing of the raw materials as this usually raises the price, if I’m not mistaken.
Still, those in poverty sometimes tend to be affected the most by environmental degradation and therefore may have opinions about it. Regardless of their income level, most people are not happy about living next to toxic waste dumps. Perhaps it helps to think in the same of line of reasoning which dictates that Trade Unionist and Religious voter blocs in the game represent politically active citizens and not necessarily just anyone who cares about these issues.
Everyone’s points are valid and I can see all sides. I hope my input furthered the conversation and did not just serve my own need to be heard.
Here’s the paper I read:
I guess its impossible to really know if a correlation in these instances matches to actual causation.
For example, economic boost leads to more industrialisation and greater wealth, and more environmental activists appear.
Are they suddenly green because they can afford to be? or because that industrialisation led to worse pollution first?
A good example is china, where pollution has recently become disastrous in cities, and green concerns are more popular than ever, but in that case I think the pollution is causing the awareness, not the higher income levels. Any Chinese forum posters here?
India is the best example of the poor’s environmentalist movement. There have been huge uprisings against polluting mines and power plants (even if you exclude the Naxalites from your analysis), and the Indian state has been known to shoot environmentalist protesters.