Public Concern About Environmental Issues Reaches 20-Year Low

By:  Brian Koenig
02/28/2013
       
Public Concern About Environmental Issues Reaches 20-Year Low

Global concern about environmental issues has tumbled to a 20-year low since the beginning of the economic recession.

Global concern about environmental issues has tumbled to a 20-year low since the beginning of the economic recession, a new study just reported. The multi-nation poll surveyed 22,812 people across 22 countries — including Great Britain and the United States — 12 of which have been regularly polled on environmental issues since 1992.

Surveyed on six key environmental issues — species loss, auto emissions, fresh water shortages, air pollution, water pollution, and general climate change — fewer people now perceive such issues as “very serious” than in the last two decades, when research group GlobeScan first launched the annual poll. In a February 25 press release, the group reported on its revealing study:

Climate change is the only exception, where concern was lower from 1998 to 2003 than it is now. Concern about air and water pollution, as well as biodiversity, is significantly below where it was even in the 1990s. Many of the sharpest falls have taken place in the past two years.

The perceived seriousness of climate change has fallen particularly sharply since the unsuccessful UN Climate Summit in Copenhagen in December 2009. Climate concern dropped first in industrialized countries, but this year’s figures show that concern has now fallen in major developing economies such as Brazil and China as well.

Overall, 49 percent of people now consider so-called man-made climate change a “very serious” issue, a notable percentage lower than at the outset of the 2009 global financial crisis. The indication is that poor economic conditions are diverting attention from “humanitarian” concerns and prompting individuals to focus more on their own economic concerns.

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