You could look at a lot of things. We genrally have less strict regulations on our businesses than European countries do, which puts us behind in terms of how ecologically conscious our business sector is. There is often considerably more public support for increased taxes to support environmental campaigns, especially in countries like Germany and the Netherlands. Public education is also more proactive when addressing environmental issues. For example, in Northern Ireland, elementary school curriculum has separate sections on recycling, sustainability and the rainforest, and fair trade.
Another factor that could play into the U.S. lagging behind are the “Climate Change Deniers” that exist in our country. They do not believe that climate change is real, and hinder the progress of any matter that may be done to solve it. Climate Change Deniers find every argument possible to prove that climage change is not real.
A well-organized chart on Climate Change Deniers’ views:
There is a high level of awareness needed to truly make a difference. In the states, there are no large scale education programs for children or adults that encompass global climate change. Many people simply remain unaware of what is going on in habitats like the Arctic. Once the public is educated, they will have to want to change for the better. Examples include switching to renewable energy sources and cutting back on fuel consumption.
In addition to awareness, which I absolutely agree is fundamental, I think population and size are two big issues as well. The most populous Western European country (Germany) has only 81 million people. Drafting successful legislation and garnering public support is less difficult when the scale of the required change is smaller. In fact the most environmentally-forward countries also tend to be the smaller ones – Denmark, the Netherlands, Sweden. And if size and development patterns are compared between Western Europe and the US, further differences appear. Within Europe (for pragmatic reasons of lack of space), the cities are closer together and built more compactly, the roads and cars are smaller – everything is more closely linked. This makes basic climate-friendly initiatives – good public transportation, for instance – much easier.
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