Friday, October 28, 2005

Latest poll numbers on US attitudes toward environmental issues

On Oct. 13, 2005, Harris Interactive released the results of its latest poll on US attitudes toward environmental issues. A whopping 74% agreed that 'protecting the environment is so important that requirements and standards cannot be too high, and continuing environmental improvements must be made regardless of cost.' When Harris last polled in 2000, only 66% agreed with that statement. Also, 44% said they think the media is 'doing less than their share to help reduce environmental problems.' In contrast, 37% think the media are doing 'about right' on this front, while 18% say the media are doing 'more than their share.'

A September 2005 study from the Human Dimensions in Natural Resources Unit at Colorado State University closely examined and categorized attitudes toward wildlife management in 19 Western states. This study identified the 'utilitarian' attitude ('wildlife exists for human use') and the 'mutualist' attitude ('wildlife is part of an extended family, and in an ideal world people and wildlife would live together without fear'). Currently, about equal numbers of respondents claimed a utilitarian (34%) or mutualist (33%) stance, while 20% expressed a blended perspective. Only 13% reported disinterest in wildlife management, which implies that there is probably a large yet diverse audience of people in the West who are very interested in wildlife management news. The study also predicts that the mutualist perspective may grow to predominate in the future.

On June 9, 2005, Yale's Environmental Attitudes and Behavior Project released this year's survey exploring how concerned Americans are about environmental problems. In all, 56% consider soil and water contamination a "very serious problem," while 53% expressed similar concern for air pollution, 46% for deforestation, and 45% for global warming. However, their greatest concern was reducing America's dependence on oil (not just foreign oil): 68% rated this as a serious concern, right up there with jobs and the economy.

Source: Society for Environmental Journalism

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