Green Politics

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1. Green parties are on the ascendancy in many developed countries. What explains the increasing support for green politics and to what extent do green parties offer a serious challenge to traditional political parties Green politics has become a contentious area in the political arena. As the environmental issues facing society has grown, the importance the public places on how they are addressed by political parties has grown correspondingly. Public support has grown relative to many factors. The main two that I will address are the increasing impact human society has on the environment and how its’ consequent effects on quality of life cause people to react and the changing attitudes towards the environment - especially in developed countries. Within these two areas there are other significant questions to be addressed; how does human caused environmental degradation affect the level of support for green politics? What means have been employed and which groups have used them to facilitate the changing perception of environmental protection? The two factors that have a significant effect on the levels of support for green politics are the cultural attitudes of the people and the extent to which pollution effects their’ lives. Cultural attitudes in this context are the way people in the society regard environmental damage and how it should be addressed. Evidence suggests that typically a developed culture has a greater tendency to have a postmaterialist population (Inglehart 1995). Quality of life is high enough to ensure that most basic needs are met for the majority of the population ensuring that people are freed of the ‘need’ aspect of life. “As previous research has found, people with postmaterialist values-emphasizing self-expression and the quality of life-are much more apt to protecting the environment (and are much more likely to be active members of environmentalist groups), than those with materialist values-emphasizing economic and physical security above all.”(Inglehart 1995) To support this claim, I looked at the most recent data from the Environment section of the World Values Survey. To get an idea of the levels of support in developed countries I looked at the results of the sections “Increase in taxes if used to prevent environmental pollution” and “Would give part of my income for the environment”(2005-2008). The data shown uses samples from countries which I chose by taking a selection of countries listed by the UN as developed countries (United Nations Development Program, 2011). Weight [with split ups]| Total|

Would give part of my income for the environment| Strongly agree| 10.90%| | Agree| 42.80%|
| Disagree| 31.30%|
| Strongly disagree| 15.00%|
| Total| 7580 (100%)|

Weight [with split ups]| Total|
Increase in taxes if used to prevent environmental pollution| Strongly agree| 9.60%| | Agree| 38.20%|
| Disagree| 33.30%|
| Strongly disagree| 18.90%|
| Total| 7629 (100%)|

This is an inverse relation with many developing, pre-industrial countries who care little for the environment despite having much larger environmental issues facing them. Having much more pressing concerns than those of the environment such as food, water, shelter and healthcare gives developing country populations little time or incentive to try and protect the environment. The levels of willingness, although not substantially positive is still quite high, providing evidence that a large portion of developed countries populations are postmaterialist in their cultural attitudes.

The perception that the environment is precious and needs to be protected is not a long standing idea. The green political movement only started gaining momentum in the 1970’s as part of the NSM’s era. Since then there has been a substantial increase in the amount of green parties globally and also organisations that support similar areas to those of green politics. These have grown in accordance...
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