Journal of Environmental Law & Litigation : Vol. 24, No. 1, p. 119-164 : Is Religion the Environment’s Last Best Hope? Targeting Change in Individual Behavior Through Personal Norm Activation
Johnson, Stephen M.
This Article explores the important role that religious organizations have played, and can play, in personal norm activation to influence change in individuals’ environmentally destructive actions. Part I of the Article describes the need for regulating or targeting individuals, in addition to industrial sources, in order to address many of the remaining significant environmental problems. Part II examines the advantages and disadvantages of targeting individual actions through command-and-control regulation, economic-based alternatives, and information disclosure programs. Part III outlines the concept of norm activation and details the manner in which information disclosure programs can be used to activate personal norms to influence changes in individual behavior. It also identifies some of the limitations on the use of information disclosure to activate norms and limitations on the development of effective information disclosure programs to activate norms. Part IV explores the manner in which churches and religious organizations, over the past decade, have, through their statements and actions, activated personal norms of stewardship and social justice to change individuals’ attitudes and actions in ways that reduce harm to the environment and public health. Finally, Part V discusses the ways that the government could partner with religious organizations to influence changes in individuals’ environmentally destructive behavior or to implement programs that encourage individuals to reduce their environmentally destructive behavior.