Thursday, March 18, 2010

Concern for Environmental Problems Wanes

Although Americans strongly hold advanced developed countries’ attitudes toward the environment, including worry about global warming, the general perception that environmental conditions are improving, the deep recession and controversies surrounding global warming have reduced public concern about the environment.

A recent Gallup poll records Americans are less concerned about top environmental problems from a year ago.

The quality of drinking water consistently tends to be the public’s primary concern. Several polls conducted for Great Outdoors Colorado during the 1990s and 2000s confirm that water pollution is also the top worry in Colorado. This year, air pollution tends toward the middle of the list of concerns after being near the top concern in 1989. The decline reflects improvements in air quality, producing a lower salience in the news.

There have been dramatic drops in many of the concerns since 1989. For example, worrying about pollution of rivers, lakes and reservoirs dropped from 72 percent in 1989 to 46 percent in 2010.

Heightened concern about global warming has been a more recent phenomena, reflecting the intense publicity (the Al Gore factor), but a 13 percent drop off since its peak in 2007 (41%) has been significant.

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