Americans worry the most about several water-related risks and issues among nine major environmental issues, according to results of a new Gallup poll. They worry least about global warming and loss of open spaces.
3 in 4 Concerned about Water Issues
At least three in four Americans surveyed in Gallup’s 2011 Environment poll say they worry a great deal or a fair amount about contamination of soil and water by toxic waste, pollution of rivers, lakes, and reservoirs, pollution of drinking water, and the maintenance of the nation’s supply of fresh water for household needs.
Air pollution is nearly as high a concern for Americans, with 72% worried a great deal or a fair amount about it.
A little more than six in 10 worry about the related problems of extinction of plant and animal species and the loss of tropical rain forests. Slightly fewer worry about urban sprawl and loss of open spaces, while barely half, 51%, worry about global warming.
Environmental Concern Drops Significantly from 2001
Gallup data indicates the current levels of US public concern about various environmental problems are essentially unchanged from 2010. However, Americans are less worried today than they were 10 years ago about all eight issues Gallup measured in 2001.
For example, pollution of drinking water dropped as an issue causing a great deal or fair amount of worry from 88% to 77% of Americans, a 12.5% decline. Concern about global warming dropped an even larger 19%, from 63% to 51% of Americans.
Gallup notes the decline during the past decade spans a period when its data indicates the public often expressed surging concern about terrorism, the Iraq war, gas prices, and the economy. Gallup also advises that the poll was conducted prior to the emergence of the current earthquake- and tsunami-generated nuclear crisis in Japan.
Fiscal Issues Most Worry Americans
Seven in 10 Americans (71%) say they worry about the economy “a great deal,” more than worry about 13 other issues measured in another recent Gallup poll. Only 34% said they worried about quality of the environment a great deal, although another 34% said they worried about it a fair amount.
About the Data: Results for this Gallup poll are based on telephone interviews conducted March 3-6, 2011, with a random sample of 1,021 adults, aged 18 and older, living in the continental US, selected using random-digit-dial sampling.