Despite being bombarded with warnings from environmentalists and politicians, Americans still aren’t very worried about global warming.
A new Gallup poll shows that Americans’ concern about warming has fallen to the same level it was in 1989. In fact, global warming ranked at the bottom of a list of Americans’ environmental concerns, with only 32 percent saying they worried about it a “great deal.”
“Importantly, even as global warming has received greater attention as an environmental problem from politicians and the media in recent years, Americans’ worry about it is no higher now than when Gallup first asked about it in 1989,” writes Gallup’s Jeffrey Jones.
So far in 2015, Americans are less worried about global warming than they were just last year when 34 percent said they worried about warming a “great deal.” Gallup’s poll comes after a CNN poll from January found that 57 percent of Americans don’t see global warming as a threat to their lives.
“Americans express greater concern over more proximate threats — including pollution of drinking water, as well as pollution of rivers, lakes and reservoirs, and air pollution — than they do about longer-term threats such as global warming, the loss of rainforests, and plant and animal extinction,” Jones adds.
Generally, Americans’ concern for the environment ticks up during good economic times, like in the 1990s when environmental concern surged. But there has been no net change in people’s concern for global warming since 1989, despite it being the number issue for environmental activists.
Americans have become much more positive about the environment in general, according to Gallup. For example, concerns over drinking water and air quality have plummeted since 1989. In that time federal and state laws have forced companies to install pollution control technologies.
Americans even seem to be less worried about losing the rainforests than they were in 1989. Worries about animal extinctions have fallen 7 percent since 2000, Gallup notes.
“Also, the nature of the environmental agenda may indirectly be influencing Americans’ concern. The primary focus of the environmental movement has shifted toward long-term threats like global warming — issues about which Americans tend to worry less than about more immediate threats like pollution,” Jones writes.
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