Thomas Dietz

Thomas Dietz
Michigan State University | MSU · Department of Sociology

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234
Publications
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Publications

Publications (234)
Article
In the struggle to mitigate anthropogenic threats to environmental systems, science has made great progress identifying and quantifying the potential of various mitigation initiatives. It has made less progress in identifying and assessing how those initiatives will affect their targets and whether those initiatives can be adopted given the constra...
Article
The transformational potential of the United Nations’ 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) lies in effective efforts to reconcile the conflicts and maximize the synergies among the interrelated SDGs. Previous research on the interrelationships among SDGs often focused on depicting the degree to which different goals reinforce or ham...
Preprint
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In your editorial „How researchers can help fight climate change in 2022 and beyond” you rightly emphasize the value of emerging energy supply and end-use technologies for achieving much needed though highly ambitious GHG emission reductions. However, meeting this goal at the necessary speed is not solely a technical problem. There is a long histor...
Article
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Carbon labelling systems can inform individual and organizational choices, which potentially reduce the carbon footprints of goods and services. We review the ways labelling is conceptualized and operationalized, and the available evidence on effectiveness. The literature focuses mainly on how labelling affects retail consumer behaviour, but much l...
Article
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Rapid urbanization throughout the globe increases demand for fresh water and the ecosystem services associated with it. This need is conventionally met through the construction of infrastructure. Natural infrastructure solutions have increased to provide freshwater ecosystem services, but little global research has examined the intricate relationsh...
Article
To inform climate decisions, climate models must be supplemented with knowledge of the feasibility of choice options in specific decision contexts. Design principles (DPs) offer useful tools for guiding choices. DPs are statements developed from looking across research on specific choice domains to articulate general relationships among decisions,...
Article
People with high socioeconomic status disproportionally affect energy-driven greenhouse gas emissions directly through their consumption and indirectly through their financial and social resources. However, few climate change mitigation initiatives have targeted this population segment, and the potential of such initiatives remains insufficiently r...
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A Correction to this paper has been published: https://doi.org/10.1038/s41586-021-03479-2.
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The United Nations has adopted 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) with 169 targets. International trade has substantial influences on global sustainability and human well-being. However, little is known about the impacts of international trade on progress towards achieving the SDG targets. Here we show that international trade positively affec...
Article
Early in 2020, the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) spread around the world, disrupting lives and societies. In some places, public responses to COVID-19 were remarkably rapid and forceful, particularly in comparison to global environmental crises. What can we learn from these responses to promote mitigation of global environmental crises? We hypothe...
Article
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Limiting global warming to 2ºC or less relative to pre-industrial temperatures will require unprecedented rates of decarbonization globally. The scale and scope of transformational change required across sectors and actors in society raises critical questions of feasibility. Much of the literature on mitigation pathways addresses technological and...
Article
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Climate change is one of the greatest ecological and social challenges of the twenty-first century. Sociologists have made important contributions to our knowledge of the human drivers of contemporary climate change, including better understanding of the effects of social structure and political economy on national greenhouse gas emissions, the int...
Article
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The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has encouraged psychologists to become part of the integrated scientific effort to support the achievement of climate change targets such as keeping within 1.5C or 2C of global warming. To date, the typical psychological approach has been to demonstrate that specific concepts and theories can p...
Article
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To address global challenges1–4, 193 countries have committed to the 17 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)5. Quantifying progress towards achieving the SDGs is essential to track global efforts towards sustainable development and guide policy development and implementation. However, systematic methods for assessing spatio-temporal...
Article
A number of theories and hypotheses attempt to understand what influences pro-environmental behaviors. In social psychology, the values–beliefs–norms (VBN) theory is one of the most common approaches used to explain pro-environmental behaviors. But different sets of concepts have often been used in work based on large public opinion surveys. Here,...
Article
The relationships between biodiversity conservation and ecosystem services (ES) are widely debated. However, it is still not clear how biodiversity conservation and ES interact with different strategies in and surrounding protected areas (PAs), the cornerstone for biodiversity conservation. Here, we present results on the interplay between biodiver...
Article
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Many communities, especially minority communities, have to deal with contaminated water supplies. Remediating such risks is usually expensive, so requires action from state and/or federal governments. In turn, this requires political support for provision of a collective good, an altruistic action. We use data from a Mechanical Turk convenience sam...
Article
Rural areas around the world are increasingly exposed to natural disasters. To guide management intervention for sustainable development after natural disasters, scientists and policymakers need a better understanding of the linkages between livelihood changes after natural disasters and recovery outcomes. Despite the growing body of disaster resea...
Article
We argue that sociological analyses of inequality could benefit from engaging the literatures on decision-making. In turn, a sociological focus on how contexts and structural constraints influence the outcomes of decisions and the strategies social groups can use in pursuit of their goals could inform our understanding of decision-making. We consid...
Article
Sustainability requires reducing the carbon intensity of human well-being (CIWB): the level of anthropogenic carbon emissions per unit of human well-being. Here we examine how multiple forms of inequality effect sex-specific measures of CIWB using data for the 50 U.S. states, while taking into account the effects of other socio-economic and politic...
Article
Providing clean, safe, reliable, and affordable energy for people everywhere will require converting to an energy system in which the use of fossil fuels is minimal. A sustainable energy transition means substantial changes in technology and the engagement of the engineering community. But it will also mean changes in behavior and policies and, thu...
Article
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Scientists who perform environmental research on policy-relevant topics face challenges when communicating about how values may have influenced their research. This study examines how citizens view scientists who publicly acknowledge values. Specifically, we investigate whether it matters: if citizens share or oppose a scientist’s values, if a scie...
Article
Human actions are transforming ecosystems across the globe. Six frameworks aid in understanding the forces that drive human stress on the environment and human responses to this stress. Two of them, the stochastic impacts by regression on population, affluence and technology (STIRPAT) model and decomposition analysis, are approaches to analyzing da...
Article
Thirty years ago, Hubert M. Blalock Jr. published an article in Teaching Sociology about the importance of teaching statistics. We honor Blalock’s legacy by assessing how using Amazon Mechanical Turk (MTurk) in statistics classes can enhance student learning and increase statistical literacy among social science gradaute students. In addition, we a...
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Given increasing scholarly recognition of the need to better understand the factors that influence identification with or participation in social movements, we build upon recent work that integrates public opinion methods and analytical techniques into social movements research. Specifically, we revise an existing measure of environmental movement...
Article
Download for free until 3/16/17: http://bit.ly/solarpvpaper Increased household adoption of solar photovoltaic systems has the potential to reduce greenhouse gas emissions associated with providing electricity. Although residential solar has recently become more affordable, market penetration in the U.S. remains relatively low. This study proposes...
Article
Recent scholarship in human–animal relationships demonstrates that new theoretical insights emerge when these relationships are seriously considered. We suggest that the most prominent measures of values in the environmental decision-making research literature, the Schwartz approach, may not adequately capture key aspects of how individuals value a...
Article
The linked problems of energy sustainability and climate change are among the most complex and daunting facing humanity at the start of the twenty-first century. This joint Nature Energy and Nature Climate Change Collection illustrates how understanding and addressing these problems will require an integrated science of coupled human and natural sy...
Article
Structural human ecology is a vibrant area of theoretically grounded research that examines the interplay between structure and agency in human–environment interactions. This special issue consists of papers that highlight recent advances in the tradition. Here, the guest co-editors provide a short background discussion of structural human ecology,...
Article
Prior research on the influence of various ways of framing anthropogenic climate change (ACC) do not account for the organized ACC denial in the U.S. media and popular culture, and thus may overestimate these frames' influence in the general public. We conducted an experiment to examine how Americans' ACC views are influenced by four promising fram...
Article
Household energy consumption remains ripe for behavioral intervention, being responsible for an estimated 31% of U.S. CO2 emissions. As researchers attempt to understand the factors that influence household energy efficiency behaviors, we suggest it is important to attend to behavioral plasticity - how the perceived difficulty of behavioral respons...
Article
Climate change, one of the most important social problems of the twenty-first century, challenges pedagogy to incorporate complex themes from social and biophysical sciences. We propose an approach to a course on “Climate Change and Society” grounded in pedagogical research. Integrating the development of higher-level learning skills into course le...
Article
In order to use science to manage human–nature interactions, we need much more nuanced, and when possible, quantitative, analyses of the interplay among ecosystem services (ES), human well-being (HWB), and drivers of both ecosystem structure and function, as well as HWB. Despite a growing interest and extensive efforts in ES research in the past de...
Article
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Starting at least in the 1970s, empirical work suggested that demographic (population) and economic (affluence) forces are the key drivers of anthropogenic stress on the environment. We evaluate the extent to which politics attenuates the effects of economic and demographic factors on environmental outcomes by examining variation in CO2 emissions a...
Article
There is great benefit in using measures of environmentally significant behaviour - rather than just behavioural intentions or self-reported behaviour - if we are to advance our understanding of the individual and structural factors that influence environmental decision-making. Along these lines, to supplement the use of behavioural intention and s...
Article
There is a growing dissatisfaction with using standard measures of affluence, such as gross domestic product, as the sole conceptualization of human well-being. Experiments are underway with alternative metrics of well-being as ways of informing both research and policy. It is thus important to develop a theory of the production of human well-being...
Article
State implementation of new Environmental Protection Agency climate regulation may shift behavioural strategies from sidelines to forefront of US climate policy.
Article
Recent analyses of sustainability emphasize the tradeoff between human well-being and stress placed on the environment as measured as the ecological intensity of human well-being (EIWB), a ratio of environmental stress to human well-being. Here, we examine the effects of economic growth on EIWB for developed and less developed nations over the last...
Article
How can we encourage greater energy efficiency? Estimates that take account of behavioral plasticity—the ease with which actions can be taken—indicate that the United States could reduce overall greenhouse gas emissions by 7% if households adopted simple and money-saving efficiency actions (1). However, most households are not taking these actions...
Chapter
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Es un informe mundial enfocado en el entendimiento de la manera en que los ecosistemas y la atmósferea están respondiendo ante los patrones de consumo y producción que no tienen precedentes. Añade nuevas dimensiones a discurso ambiental a través de las evaluaciones del progreso con base en las metas acordadas internacionalmente e identificando las...
Article
The Risk Society Revisited: Social Theory and Governance By Rosa Eugene A. , Renn Ortwin and McCright Aaron Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 2014, 264 pp., € 44,30; Hardcover - Volume 5 Issue 3 - Thomas Dietz
Article
Consumer choices can have major impacts on the environment. For example, the United States could reduce its total greenhouse gas emissions by 7% through modest policies to encourage more efficient household energy consumption (1). This “behavioral wedge” would make a substantial and low-cost contribution to climate-change mitigation (2, 3). Shifts...
Article
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Understanding the relationship between human well-being and the stress economic activity places on the environment is a central challenge of sustainability research. Lamb et al (2014 Environ. Res. Lett. 9 014011) provide two important results that will influence future analyses. First, they show that the drivers of consumption that induce anthropog...
Article
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In recent years, some scholars, journalists, and science advocates have promoted broad claims that ‘conservatives distrust science’ or ‘conservatives oppose science’. We argue that such claims may oversimplify in ways that lead to empirical inaccuracies. The Anti-Reflexivity Thesis suggests a more nuanced examination of how political ideology influ...
Article
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Actions by individuals and households to reduce carbon-based energy consumption have the potential to change the picture of U.S. energy consumption and carbon dioxide emissions in the near term. To tap this potential, however, energy policies and programs need to replace outmoded assumptions about what drives human behavior; they must integrate ins...
Chapter
The United States is the largest producer of social science publications on global environmental change, which has been studied by United States social scientists for more than a century. The emergence of climate change as a global issue during the 1990s has also led to a growing body of social science (and multidisciplinary) analysis and assessmen...
Article
Decisions always involve both facts and values, whereas most science communication focuses only on facts. If science communication is intended to inform decisions, it must be competent with regard to both facts and values. Public participation inevitably involves both facts and values. Research on public participation suggests that linking scientif...
Conference Paper
Background/Question/Methods To mitigate the widespread ecosystem degradation, numerous conservation and development policies have been designed and implemented. However, those policies were largely evaluated separately without consideration of their potential interaction effects. In this study, we asked two major questions: (1) are there interact...
Article
We must forge network connections among rapidly changing communities of decision-makers and researchers to foster the social learning necessary for effective adaptation to climate risks.
Article
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For decades, scholars have been trying to determine whether small or large groups are more likely to cooperate for collective action and successfully manage common-pool resources. Using data gathered from the Wolong Nature Reserve since 1995, we examined the effects of group size (i.e., number of households monitoring a single forest parcel) on bot...
Article
Interactions between distant places are increasingly widespread and influential, often leading to unexpected outcomes with profound implications for sustainability. Numerous sustainability studies have been conducted within a particular place with little attention to the impacts of distant interactions on sustainability in multiple places. Although...
Article
Full-text available
The Millennium Ecosystem Assessment (MA) estimated that two thirds of ecosystem services on the earth have degraded or are in decline due to the unprecedented scale of human activities during recent decades. These changes will have tremendous consequences for human well-being, and offer both risks and opportunities for a wide range of stakeholders....
Article
Full-text available
Understanding the linkages between ecosystem services (ES) and human well-being (HWB) is crucial to sustain the flow of ES for HWB. The Millennium Ecosystem Assessment (MA) provided a state-of-the-art synthesis of such knowledge. However, due to the complexity of the linkages between ES and HWB, there are still many knowledge gaps, and in particula...
Data
The index system for assessing human well-being based on the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment conceptual framework. (DOC)
Data
Dataset used in this study. (ZIP)
Data
Dataset and instrument used in this study. (ZIP)
Data
Standardized coefficients of the confirmatory factor analysis for Human Well-Being Index (HWBI). (DOC)
Article
Full-text available
Interactions between distant places are increasingly widespread and influential, often leading to unexpected outcomes with profound implications for sustainability. Numerous sustainability studies have been conducted within a particular place with little attention to the impacts of distant interactions on sustainability in multiple places. Although...
Article
Many research questions in environmental policy lead us to questions of environmental cognition-how do individuals structure their thinking about environmental issues, how are these cognitions learned, and how do they influence behaviors? Although these processes tend to be understudied and undertheorized, at least two theoretical perspectives are...
Article
Centuries of speculation about the causes of human stress on the environment is now being disciplined with empirical evidence, including analyses of differences in greenhouse-gas emissions across contemporary nation states. The cumulative results can provide useful guidance for both climate projections and for policy design. Growing human populatio...
Chapter
Full-text available
The scale, spread and rate of change of global drivers are without precedent. Burgeoning populations and growing economies are pushing environmental systems to destabilizing limits. The idea that the perturbation of a complex ecological system can trigger sudden feedbacks is not new: significant scientific research has explored thresholds and tippi...
Article
Debate about the substitutability of manufactured, natural, human, and social capital is at the heart of sustainability theory. Sociology can contribute to this debate by examining the processes and mechanisms by which one form of capital is substituted for another. The authors examine the substitution among different forms of capitals at China's W...
Article
The environmental Kuznets curve (EKC) posits an inverted “U” shaped relationship between the affluence of a nation and the stress it places on the biophysical environment, with increases in affluence from low to moderate levels producing increased environmental stress but further increases eventually leading to a tipping point after which further a...
Article
Thomas Dietz reassesses Robert Cialdini's revolutionary treatise on the science of decision-making.
Article
Nitrogen loading models are often designed and built without any input from decision-makers. Better understanding and communication between modellers and decision-makers would improve the usefulness of models. In interviews with 16 modellers and outreach professionals in southern New England, USA, we inquired about how nitrogen-loading models shoul...