2000 Progress Report: Environmental Attitudes of Alabama Coastal Residents: Public Opinion Polls and Environmental PolicyEPA Grant Number: R827072C014
Subproject: this is subproject number 014 , established and managed by the Center Director under grant R827072
(EPA does not fund or establish subprojects; EPA awards and manages the overall grant for this center).
Center: Alabama Center For Estuarine Studies (ACES)
Center Director: Shipp, Robert L.
Title: Environmental Attitudes of Alabama Coastal Residents: Public Opinion Polls and Environmental Policy
Investigators: Picou, John Steven , Formichella, Cecelia , Johnson, G. David , Nicholls, Keith
EPA Project Officer: Packard, Benjamin H
Project Period: October 1, 1999 through September 30, 2000
Project Period Covered by this Report: October 1, 1999 through September 30, 2000
RFA: Alabama Center For Estuarine Studies (ACES) (1999) RFA Text | Recipients Lists
Research Category: Ecological Restoration , Targeted Research
Objective:Since the 1960's, environmental issues increasingly have become major concerns among members of the US population. Environmental awareness among Americans was heightened with the publishing of Silent Spring by Rachel Carson in 1962, the first televised oil spill in Santa Barbara, California in 1967 and increased dramatically in the late 1980s with the Exxon Valdez oil spill. Despite these concerns about the environment, Arcury and others have concluded that environmental knowledge among Americans is actually quite low. For managers, these findings are particularly problematic since the successful regulation of the environment depends on the population having a considerable degree of environmental knowledge. While policy is implemented to preserve a particular resource, it is the activities of humans who utilize the resource, in essence, which are managed. Consequently, the willingness of the human population to accept and comply with regulatory policy is contingent upon the amount of information or environmental knowledge they have about the condition of the resource under question and the necessity of regulations. As Arcury (1990, p.303) points out: "If a future for positive and effective environmental policy is to be ensured, greater effort must be directed to finding and implementing tactics to increase public knowledge."1
Given these conclusions at the national level, it follows that the continued health and vitality of the Alabama coastal zone is associated with the current environmental knowledge of Mobile and Baldwin county residents. In this research, we collected information from coastal county residents of Alabama and assessed their environmental knowledge and attitudes. Specifically, this research focused on coastal residents' general environmental knowledge as well as their specific awareness about the coastal zone and its future, its health and the major stakeholders who utilize the resources of the coastal zone of Alabama. This research provides baseline information on environmental knowledge and attitudes of residents of the Coastal Alabama region. Once these baseline observations are collected, we recommend that a similar survey be repeated over subsequent years.
Progress Summary:A random sample of 1270 adult residents of Mobile and Baldwin counties was selected by random digit dialing. The sample has a margin of error of 2.75 at the 95 percent confidence level. The final questionnaire contained 110 items and included questions on environmental attitudes and environmental knowledge, at both the local and national level; usage patterns of residents of the coastal zone and its resources; coastal residents' perceptions of the present and future health of the Alabama Coastal zone; coastal county residents' views on various policies associated the environmental management of the Alabama Coastal zone; sociodemographic profile of coastal county residents; and, religious ideology and affiliation of Mobile and Baldwin counties residents.
In our first presentation to the ACES Scientific Advisory Committee, we examined occupational dependence of coastal residents and their spouses on the Alabama Coastal zone, residents' perceptions of environmental quality of the area and support for environmental selected policies, dominion attitudes towards the environment, perceptions related to the environmental health of Mobile's Estuary system, environmental knowledge and behaviors of residents and usage patterns of coastal county residents. In general, we found that the vast majority of coastal county residents utilize the resources of the coastal area and express a good deal of concern about the continued environmental health of the region. Coastal residents also expressed support for policies directed at protecting the environment. However, residents of this region do not participate to a large extent in pro-environmental behaviors nor are they very knowledgeable about environmental issues.
A conference presentation at the Mid-South Sociological Association was made in October 2000. The paper, entitled "Evangelism, Fundamentalism and Environmentalism in a Deep South Community" examined the relationship between religious beliefs and environmentalism. In general, the analyses revealed that conservative religious beliefs were in conflict with environmental protection. However, those expressing higher levels of agreement with millennial or end-time beliefs, that is, those who are the most religious, reported more environmental concern than those who are the most conservative religiously. This finding is counter to the conventional beliefs about the relationship between religiosity and environmentalism. The paper is currently being revised for publication.
Our presentation in March will outline the results from the statistical analyses of the following hypotheses:
H1: Environmental attitudes among Alabama coastal residents will be similar to those of other Americans as reported in other polls.
H2: General environmental knowledge among Alabama coastal residents will be
similar to that of other Americans.
H3: The greater the environmental knowledge an individual has the more likely he/she will be in favor of preserving the environment.
H4: Those who utilize the coastal zone of Alabama for economic reasons will have more concerns about the continued health and vitality of this area than those who utilize it for recreational reasons.
H5: Individuals who live in zip codes proximate to major heavy industries (e.g. paper and chemical production facilities) will have more environmental knowledge and attitudes which favor environmental protection.
1Arcury, T. 1990. "Environmental attitude and environmental knowledge." Human Organization 49 (4): 300-304.
Supplemental Keywords:estuarine research, coastal ecosystem, environmental awareness, environmental policy, land and water use, watersheds, aquatic ecosystems, public opinion polls, outreach and education., RFA, Scientific Discipline, Economic, Social, & Behavioral Science Research Program, Geographic Area, Water, ECOSYSTEMS, Ecosystem Protection/Environmental Exposure & Risk, Ecology, Aquatic Ecosystems & Estuarine Research, estuarine research, Ecosystem/Assessment/Indicators, Ecosystem Protection, State, Chemistry, Restoration, Aquatic Ecosystem, Ecological Effects - Environmental Exposure & Risk, Aquatic Ecosystems, Ecological Effects - Human Health, Ecology and Ecosystems, decision-making, Ecological Risk Assessment, Aquatic Ecosystem Restoration, Ecological Indicators, Economics & Decision Making, anthropogenic stresses, coastal ecosystem, water use, estuaries, watersheds, environmental awareness, nutrients, Alabama (AL), coastal environments, environmental values, public knowledge, environmental attitudes, environmental policy, public opinion polls, ecosystem, water quality, estuarine waters, public policy, outreach and education, human modifications, bay ecosystem, Alabama coastal residents
Progress and Final Reports:Original Abstract
Main Center Abstract and Reports:R827072 Alabama Center For Estuarine Studies (ACES)
Subprojects under this Center: (EPA does not fund or establish subprojects; EPA awards and manages the overall grant for this center).
R827072C001 Fluorescent Whitening Agents As Facile Pollution Markers In Shellfishing Waters
R827072C002 Red Snapper Demographics on Artificial Reefs: The Effect of Nearest-Neighbor Dynamics
R827072C003 Stabilization of Eroding Shorelines in Estuarine Wave Eliminates with Constructed Fringe Wetlands Incorporating Offshore Breakwaters
R827072C004 Interaction Between Water Column Structure and Reproduction in Jellyfish Populations Of Mobile Bay (SGER)
R827072C005 Effects of Variation in River Discharge and Wind-Driven Resuspension on Higher Trophic Levels in the Mobile Bay Ecosystem
R827072C006 Results of Zooplankton Component
R827072C007 Benthic Study Component
R827072C008 A Preliminary Survey of Macroalgal and Aquatic Plant Distribution in the Mobile Tensaw Delta
R827072C009 Fisheries-induced changes in the structure and function of shallow water "nursery habitats": an experimental assessment
R827072C010 Effects Of Variation in River Discharge and Wind-Driven Resuspension on Lower Trophic Levels of the Mobile Bay Ecosystem
R827072C011 Evaluation of Alabama Estuaries as Developmental Habitat for Juvenile Sea Turtles
R827072C012 Effects of Salinity Stress on Natural and Anthropogenically-Derived Bacteria in Estuarine Environments
R827072C013 The Role of Land-Use/Land-Cover and Sub-estuarine Ecosystem Nitrogen Cycling in the Regulation of Nitrogen Delivery to a River Dominated Estuary; Mobile Bay, Alabama
R827072C014 Environmental Attitudes of Alabama Coastal Residents: Public Opinion Polls and Environmental Policy
R827072C015 Synthesis and Characterization of an Electrochemical Peptide Nucleic Acid Probe
R827072C016 Determinants of Small-Scale Variation in the Abundance of the Blue Crab Callinectes Sapidus
R827072C017 Effects of Estrogen Pollution on the Reproductive Fitness of the Gulf Pipefish, Syngnathus scovelli
R827072C019 A Model for Genetic Diversity Aquatic Insects of the Mobile/Tensaw River Delta
R827072C020 Evaluating Trophic Processes as Indicators of Anthropogenic Eutrophication in Coastal Ecosystems: An Exploratory Analysis
R827072C021 Effects of Anthropogenic Eutrophication on the Magnitude and Trophic Fate of Microphytobenthic Production in Estuaries
R827072C022 Characteristics of Ship Waves and Wind Waves in Mobile Bay
R827072C023 Methods Comparison Between Stripping Voltammetry and Plasma Emission Spectroscopy for Metals in Mobile Bay
R827072C024 Changes in Water Conditions and Sedimentation Rates Associated With Construction of the Mobile Bay Causeway
R827072C025 Cold-Induced Hibernation of Marine Vibrios in the Gulf of Mexico: A Study of Cell-Cell Communication and Dormancy in Vibrio vulnificus
R827072C026 Holocene Sedimentary History of Weeks Bay, AL: Human and Natural Impacts on Deposition in a Gulf Coast Estuary
R827072C027 Shelter Bottlenecks and Self-Regulation in Blue Crab Populations: Assessing the Roles of Nursery Habitats and Juvenile Interactions for Shelter Dependent Organisms
R827072C028 Predicting Seagrass Survival in Nutrient Enriched Waters: Toward a New View of an Existing Paradigm
R827072C029 DMSP and its Role as an Antioxidant in the Salt Marsh Macrophyte Spartina alterniflora
R827072C030 A Preliminary Survey of Aerial and Ground-Dwelling Insects of the Mobile/Tensaw Delta
R827072C031 Natural Biogeochemical Tags of Striped Mullet, Mugil cephalus, Estuarine Nursery Areas in the North Central Gulf of Mexico
R827072C032 Resolution of Sedimentation Rates in Impacted Coastal Environments Using 137Cs and 210Pb Markers: Dog River and Fowl River Embayments
R827072C033 Investigation of the Use of Pulse Amplitude Modulated (PAM) Fluorometry as an Indicator of Submerged Aquatic Vegetation Health in Mobile Bay
R827072C034 Influence of Invasive Plant Species in Determining Diversity of Aquatic Vegetation in the Mobile-Tensaw Delta
R827072C035 The Influence of Shallow Water Hydrodynamics on the Importance of Seagrass Detritus in Estuarine Food Webs
R827072C036 Food Web Interactions, Spatial Subsidies and the Flow of Energy Between the Mobile Bay Delta and Offshore Waters: A SGER Proposal to the Alabama Center for Estuarine Studies
R830651C001 Meteorological Modeling of Hurricanes and Coastal Interactions: A Stability Study For Vertical Pressure Levels
R830651C002 Characterization of Glycoprotein Cues Used by the Parasitic Rhizocephalan Barnacle Loxothylacus texanus To Identify Its Blue Crab Host, Callinectes sapidus
R830651C003 Survey of Diamondback Terrapin Populations in Alabama Estuaries
R830651C004 An Assessment of Environmental Contaminant Levels in Water and Dragonfly Larvae Tissues from the Mobile/Tensaw Delta