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Open AccessArticle

Current and Future Friends of the Earth: Assessing Cross-National Theories of Environmental Attitudes

by Karen Stenner 1,* and Zim Nwokora 2
Behavioural Economics Team, Behavioural & Social Sciences Group, Adaptive Social & Economic Systems Program, CSIRO (Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation), Dutton Park, Queensland 4102, Australia
Law School, University of Melbourne, Carlton, Victoria 3053, Australia
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Vincenzo Dovì
Energies 2015, 8(6), 4899-4919;
Received: 27 January 2015 / Accepted: 20 May 2015 / Published: 27 May 2015
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Energy Policy and Climate Change)
Empirical studies of public opinion on environmental protection have typically been grounded in Inglehart’s post-materialism thesis, proposing that societal affluence encourages materially-sated publics to look beyond their interests and value the environment. These studies are generally conducted within, or at best across, Western, democratic, industrialized countries. Absence of truly cross-cultural research means the theory’s limitations have gone undetected. This article draws on an exceptionally broad dataset—pooling cross-sectional survey data from 80 countries, each sampled at up to three different points over 15 years—to investigate environmental attitudes. We find that post-materialism provides little account of pro-environment attitudes across diverse cultures, and a far from adequate explanation even in the affluent West. We suggest that unique domestic interests, more than broad value systems, are driving emerging global trends in environmental attitudes. The environment’s future champions may be the far from ‘post-material’ citizens of those developing nations most at risk of real material harm from climate change and environmental degradation. View Full-Text
Keywords: public opinion; environmentalism; postmaterialism; climate change; globalization public opinion; environmentalism; postmaterialism; climate change; globalization
MDPI and ACS Style

Stenner, K.; Nwokora, Z. Current and Future Friends of the Earth: Assessing Cross-National Theories of Environmental Attitudes. Energies 2015, 8, 4899-4919.

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