Nav: Home

What would Jesus do? Quite possibly, recycle

September 23, 2019

Fundamentalist Christians tap into their willingness to sacrifice to conserve water and energy, shop environmentally and protect the Earth, according to a Michigan State University (MSU) study.

A team of social scientists and sustainability scientists worked to peel off the layers of understanding about how Christianity and environmentalism mix. Their work is reported in the Journal of Environmental Studies and Sciences.

The group worked off previous findings that indicate those with Christian fundamentalist religious orientation tend to be somewhat less pro-environmental than those with other religious views or those who are not religious. That point of view is thought to be linked to the belief that the Bible asserts people's domination over nature.

But the team, in surveying 518 people in the United States, found indications that religion's emphasis on altruism - self-sacrifice for a greater good - moved people to report they'd be willing to turn off the faucet while brushing their teeth, bring their own shopping bags to the store and turn down the thermostat in cold months.

"In the United States, fundamentalist faith tends to be correlated with political conservatism, and at least since the Reagan administration, conservatives have been less concerned with the environment than liberals," said Thomas Dietz, University Distinguished Professor of Environmental Science and Policy, Sociology and Animal Studies. "We find that fundamentalist Christians are actually more likely than others to enact pro-environmental behaviors once we take account of their political views. The effect of religious beliefs seems to act through higher levels of altruistic concerns with other species and the biosphere."

However, this willingness to sacrifice did not seem to extend to climate change as it relates to protecting biodiversity.

"We hope that our findings encourage steps toward a more integrated theory of environmental decision-making and the design of common practices for pro-environmental behaviors," said Min Gon Chung, a PhD candidate in MSU's Center for Systems Integration and Sustainability (CSIS). Dietz and co-author Jianguo "Jack" Liu also are CSIS members.

In addition to Dietz and Chung, "Activating values for encouraging pro-environmental behavior: The role of religious fundamentalism and willingness to sacrifice" was written by Hana Kang, Patricia Jaimes and Liu.
Funding was provided by the National Science Foundation, NASA, Environmental Science and Policy Program at MSU, Sustainable Michigan Endowment Project, and Michigan AgBioResearch.

Michigan State University

Related Climate Change Articles:

Mapping the path of climate change
Predicting a major transition, such as climate change, is extremely difficult, but the probabilistic framework developed by the authors is the first step in identifying the path between a shift in two environmental states.
Small change for climate change: Time to increase research funding to save the world
A new study shows that there is a huge disproportion in the level of funding for social science research into the greatest challenge in combating global warming -- how to get individuals and societies to overcome ingrained human habits to make the changes necessary to mitigate climate change.
Sub-national 'climate clubs' could offer key to combating climate change
'Climate clubs' offering membership for sub-national states, in addition to just countries, could speed up progress towards a globally harmonized climate change policy, which in turn offers a way to achieve stronger climate policies in all countries.
Review of Chinese atmospheric science research over the past 70 years: Climate and climate change
Over the past 70 years since the foundation of the People's Republic of China, Chinese scientists have made great contributions to various fields in the research of atmospheric sciences, which attracted worldwide attention.
A CERN for climate change
In a Perspective article appearing in this week's Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Tim Palmer (Oxford University), and Bjorn Stevens (Max Planck Society), critically reflect on the present state of Earth system modelling.
Fairy-wrens change breeding habits to cope with climate change
Warmer temperatures linked to climate change are having a big impact on the breeding habits of one of Australia's most recognisable bird species, according to researchers at The Australian National University (ANU).
Believing in climate change doesn't mean you are preparing for climate change, study finds
Notre Dame researchers found that although coastal homeowners may perceive a worsening of climate change-related hazards, these attitudes are largely unrelated to a homeowner's expectations of actual home damage.
Older forests resist change -- climate change, that is
Older forests in eastern North America are less vulnerable to climate change than younger forests, particularly for carbon storage, timber production, and biodiversity, new research finds.
Could climate change cause infertility?
A number of plant and animal species could find it increasingly difficult to reproduce if climate change worsens and global temperatures become more extreme -- a stark warning highlighted by new scientific research.
Predicting climate change
Thomas Crowther, ETH Zurich identifies long-disappeared forests available for restoration across the world.
More Climate Change News and Climate Change Current Events

Trending Science News

Current Coronavirus (COVID-19) News

Top Science Podcasts

We have hand picked the top science podcasts of 2020.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Listen Again: Reinvention
Change is hard, but it's also an opportunity to discover and reimagine what you thought you knew. From our economy, to music, to even ourselves–this hour TED speakers explore the power of reinvention. Guests include OK Go lead singer Damian Kulash Jr., former college gymnastics coach Valorie Kondos Field, Stockton Mayor Michael Tubbs, and entrepreneur Nick Hanauer.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#562 Superbug to Bedside
By now we're all good and scared about antibiotic resistance, one of the many things coming to get us all. But there's good news, sort of. News antibiotics are coming out! How do they get tested? What does that kind of a trial look like and how does it happen? Host Bethany Brookeshire talks with Matt McCarthy, author of "Superbugs: The Race to Stop an Epidemic", about the ins and outs of testing a new antibiotic in the hospital.
Now Playing: Radiolab

Dispatch 6: Strange Times
Covid has disrupted the most basic routines of our days and nights. But in the middle of a conversation about how to fight the virus, we find a place impervious to the stalled plans and frenetic demands of the outside world. It's a very different kind of front line, where urgent work means moving slow, and time is marked out in tiny pre-planned steps. Then, on a walk through the woods, we consider how the tempo of our lives affects our minds and discover how the beats of biology shape our bodies. This episode was produced with help from Molly Webster and Tracie Hunte. Support Radiolab today at