Date of Award

Spring 5-7-2014


John Van Buren


The affect that environmental disasters have on public attitudes directly affects policy-making. This paper explores the implications and results of disasters on environmental policy-making. Various disciplines shed light as to why a disaster can spur awareness. Disasters directly threaten peoples lives and way of living. These threats result in a higher level of public awareness. The use of environmental psychology explains why people tend to ignore environmental problems until they become imminent and personal. Environmental history sheds light upon particular instances of environmental disasters. The three major environmental disasters covered are the Exxon ValdezOil Spill in Prince William Sound, Alaska, the Love Canal in Niagara Falls, and Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans. An exploration of environmental policy, and environmental public opinion, reveals the importance of understanding the way people view environmental issues. Finally, a discussion of environmental education criteria and policies is used to support the view that a reevaluation of environmental education is needed. A conclusion is reached that better environmental policies and education are of prime importance.