Cross-Cultural Trends in Environmental Attitudes
Pamela N. Waldron-Moore
Associate Professor, Political Science
Xavier University of Louisiana
1 Drexel Drive, New Orleans, LA 70125-0198
Tel #: 504-483-7405; Fax #: 504-485-7938
In the wake of September 11, when the news media instilled in ordinary citizens a fear of environmental
terrorism, utilizing chemical and biological hazards, a survey of 502 persons in western and southern USA
was conducted to appraise public environmental attitudes and concerns. The survey invited responses to
general questions of environmental concern; environmental activism; and confidence in institutions to
protect citizens from environmental hazards. The results revealed that fears associated with terrorism, a
perception of environmental threat, and media attentiveness predicted environmental concern, explaining
nearly a third of the variance in public concern for the state of the environment. In addition, activism,
access to strategic environmental information sources, fears about terrorist activity, and attentiveness to the
national media predicted mass confidence in the authorities’ ability to safeguard the public from
environmental harm. Most instructive about the findings were the cultural and regional differences
uncovered in the study and the challenges these pose for policy makers. Understanding the connection
between determinants of environmental concern and confidence in official institutions to address such
concerns presents a new dynamic for policy engagement to meet differentially the environmental needs of
the mass public while addressing strategies for sustainable trust in government institutions.
This paper is prepared for presentation at the Annual Meeting of the Southern Political Science
Association, New Orleans, January 7-10, 2004.
National environmental concerns have waxed and waned over the last decade.
Within the last two years, however, as fear