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Public Opinion and Pollution: an Interpretive Study

Fiorina, Morris P. (1973) Public Opinion and Pollution: an Interpretive Study. Environmental Quality Laboratory Memorandum, 9. California Institute of Technology , Pasadena, CA. (Unpublished)

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Proposals to improve environmental quality must be feasible if they are to have any chance of implementation. A simple truism? Yes, but the several dimensions of feasibility make the truism less obvious in substance than it first appears. Typically, questions of technological feasibility and economic feasibility are examined. Far too often, however, questions of political feasibility are glossed over or ignored altogether. What discussion of political feasibility that does occur tends to be based less on good information than on the political predispositions of the discussants. The reasonably objective observer recognizes that on the one hand the most ardent proponents of environmental reform project their intense concern on to the bulk of the population, while on the other hand those with a stake in the status quo similarly project their opposition to changes in the prevailing policies. Clearly, questions of political feasibilility must be addressed. Solutions to environmental problems, particularly the larger ones, appear to require governmental involvement. And many of those who occupy government policy-making positions are politicians also. For them, each election is a gamble with their public career, a gamble few of them take lightly. Should they heed the intense opinions of environmental activists, or does prudence demand that they opt for the bountiful resources of the proponents of business as usual? One factor in their decision is the potential of the activist minorities to influence the great mass of votes from whence comes electoral majorities. Public opinion -- latent, uncrystallized, uncertain though it may be -- looms large in the calculations of politicians. And it is this public opinion that sets the bounds of political feasibility. The general location of these bounds is our concern in this report.

Item Type:Report or Paper (Technical Report)
Additional Information:© 1973 Environmental Quality Laboratory. California Institute of Technology. Supported in part by the National Science Foundation Research Applied to National Needs, (RANN), under Grant No. GI-29726.
Group:Environmental Quality Laboratory
Funding AgencyGrant Number
Series Name:Environmental Quality Laboratory Memorandum
Issue or Number:9
Record Number:CaltechEQL:EQL-M-9
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Usage Policy:You are granted permission for individual, educational, research and non-commercial reproduction, distribution, display and performance of this work in any format.
ID Code:25753
Deposited By: Imported from CaltechEQL
Deposited On:21 Oct 2009
Last Modified:03 Oct 2019 03:08

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