Document Type

Article

Publication Date

2009

Abstract

These comments were given by Professor Hope Babcock on April 17, 2008 for the fourteenth annual Lloyd K. Garrison Lecture on Environmental Law at Pace Law School.

In this lecture, Professor Babcock argues that the problem confronting us is that we are nearing the end of achieving future gains in pollution abatement from traditional sources and the pollution that remains is largely caused by individual behavior. This she says, is true even though polls show that people consistently rate protecting the environment among their highest priorities, say they are willing to pay more to protect environmental resources, and indeed, faithfully contribute to environmental causes. Most efforts to control individual human sources of pollution have failed or not been tried because of the monumental task and cost of regulating personal behavior, the intrusiveness of doing so, and the inhibiting fear of political backlash should regulation be attempted.

This lecture is the author's first step towards understanding why, given the strength of the abstract environmental protection norm, individuals behave in environmentally destructive ways, and what, if anything can be done to change that behavior. For this talk, however, she focuses on only modifying social and personal norms. She also looks at only one circumstance in which norm change may occur, during an environmental crisis accompanied by heightened public activity, what some scholars, like Dan Farber and Michael Vandenbergh, refer to as a “republican moment.” They believe such a moment occurred in response to the environmental disasters of the late 1960s and early 1970s, which briefly resulted in widespread public support for a variety of legislative and regulatory initiatives and spawned the emergence of what she calls the environmental citizen.