Caroline Craig


Original document was submitted as an honors thesis requirement. Copyright is held by the author.

Document Type



Oftentimes, environmental activists treat and pose issues with a sense of emergency. Unfortunately, to a population who does not feel it has the energy to care, such panic has a negative effect. Worse still is when people do not agree that there is a problem. The difference in risk perception greatly divides environmentalists from regular Americans. On the one hand, it is crucial for environmentalists to continue changing the political and economic paradigms. However, policy-making and the development of solutions become greater hurdles when there is a lack of support from the general public. The very nature of environmental problems bonds us close to them and to each other. A sick environment means sick people. If that is the case, why is there such disconnect and animosity between those who consider themselves activists and those who do not? How do we overcome the politics in perception and prevent the severe political polarity from affecting progress?

What do you think is the strongest reason people choose to not litter? Is it the sign that threatens to fine them $100 for doing so? Is it that they religiously follow some sort of environmental ethic? Or is it their childhood memory of Uncle Frank giving them a swift tap on the head for tossing a candy wrapper on the ground? America is filled with both entrepreneurs and idiots. But more importantly, it is filled with families and communities that foster relationships that truly mean something. In this article I explore the subtle forms in which environmental awareness already exists in these communities and better ways to tap into those pro-environment sentiments. I hope that a better understanding of this can lead to improved relations between active environmentalists and the greater American public.