The Evolution of Environmental Concern in Europe

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This chapter examines the evolution of environmental concern in Europe. It begins by looking at how the issue first came onto the public agenda in the 1960s and 1970s, comparing and contrasting with developments in the US. It then looks at the effects of specific environmental disasters in Europe, from the Seveso disaster in Italy in 1976 through to the phenomenon of forest death or Waldsterben in Germany and the Chernobyl explosion of 1986. Making use of the increased availability of comparative survey data from the 1990s, explanations are provided for the decline in concern recorded over the course of the decade before going on to document the rise of climate change in the public consciousness in the 21st century. Following an analysis of the roles the economic crisis of 2008 and the Climategate scandal of 2009 may have had on public opinion, the chapter finishes by discussing the renewed interest in the environmental in recent years in light of events such as the School Strikes and Extinction Rebellion protests.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationResearch Handbook on Environmental Sociology
EditorsAxel Franzen, Sebastian Mader
PublisherEdward Elgar Publishing
Number of pages18
ISBN (Electronic)9781800370456
ISBN (Print)9781800370449
Publication statusPublished - 19 Nov 2021

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