What Does The Public Think Of Environmental Concerns?

By: Keith Barrett

Environmental concerns are often in the news and often aired by celebrities and the public.  However, the environment is a broad term and covers everything from global warming through to the quality of the air that we breathe, so what exactly does the term “environmental concerns” mean to people.

A Gallup poll in America addressed this in order to find out what was most the most pressing and worrying issue when it came to their environmental concerns.  The study, which had also run in a previous year, actually showed that all environmental issues had actually dropped, with American citizens putting more importance on other points of concern such as fuel costs and terrorism.  However, of the environmental concerns stated, the largest concern was the pollution of drinking water, with over 50% of those surveyed citing it as a particular worry.

Fears about water pollution

Second in the list, at 46%, was the pollution of rivers, lakes and of reservoirs, again hinting at the concern of the health and safety of drinking water.

Further down the list was the contamination of soil.  Contamination of soil could lead to toxic products or toxins getting into the food chain through the indigestion of contaminated product through animals.

This quickly shows that the environmental concerns on the mind of Americans are those that could directly affect them and their health.  This was backed up further with the next most common environmental concern being air pollution.  Air pollution has been linked to increased cases of asthma and other respiratory problems as well as allergies.

Towards the bottom of the list of environmental issues was the loss of tropical rain forests, followed by the extinction of plant and animal species.  Surprisingly, at the very bottom of the list was global warming with just 28% of people volunteering it as an environmental concern on their mind.

These figures definitely show that environmental concerns seem to be driven by how they could directly affect people and their families rather than how it could affect other countries or the World in general.  This is a worrying environmental issue in its own right considering that some of the most pressing issues are indeed global warming and rising sea levels all of which need to be tackled sooner rather than later.

Policy impacts

Looking at this evidence of views in the United States, it seems that there must be an impact here for policy makers. In order to really get the message across on a range of green topics, it appears to be clear that there’s a real need to get the public engaged.

At present, this evidence suggests that there is a real lack of dynamic energy when observing the way that such issues are being handled. Media stories often surround extreme cases, but the public want a more reasoned debate, with informative discussion of the key problems that are being faced.

Keith Barrett writes about environmental news and on varied topics relating to environmental issues. He believes that awareness of these issues is enlightening.

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