Environmental Worries Preceding Earth Day

As a corollary to concerns about the government, reported in a recent Research Brief, Americans surveyed in Gallup's 2011 Environment poll say they worry 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. They worry least about global warming and loss of open spaces.

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 6 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.

The current levels of 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. The decline over the past decade spans a period when the public often expressed surging concern about terrorism, the Iraq war, gas prices, and the economy.

Degree of Americans' Concern About Environmental Problems (Multiple Choice)


Degree of Concern (% of Respondents)


Great deal,Fair amount

Not much,

 Not at all

March 2011

March 2001

Contamination of soil and water by toxic waste




Polution of rivers, lakes and reservoirs




Pollution of drinking water




Maintenance of nations' fresh water for HH needs




Air pollution




Extinction of plants and animals




Loss of tropical  rain forests




Urban sprawl/Loss of open spaces




Global warming




Source: Gallup, March 2011

The report concludes by noting that, although the United States has experienced nothing like the mass drinking-water scare that is gripping Japan during its current nuclear crisis, Americans largely recognize the importance of clean water to their lives. All four environmental issues referring to "water" in this year's Gallup Environment poll rank in the upper tier of environmental concerns, with air pollution a close fifth.

Perhaps not surprisingly says the report, there is a slightly steeper drop-off in concern about several issues that aren't directly related to daily survival, such as the loss of tropical rain forests and urban sprawl. What may surprise some, given the broad exposure the issue has received in recent years, is that global warming ranks lowest, consistent with other Gallup polling, with barely half of Americans concerned and 48% only a little or not at all concerned.

To view methodology, full question results, and trend data in a PDF file from Gallup, please visit here.

2 comments about "Environmental Worries Preceding Earth Day".
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  1. C. michael Toomey from SciTech Marketing, April 11, 2011 at 10:18 a.m.

    Three decades and still people don't get it, or choose to ignore facts. Every person under 25 has heard at least 4 school and TV programs about not polluting air land and water. But, sadly, look at examples of behavior when folks leave a store, playgrounds, picnic areas or numerous public places and proceed to drop wrappers, plastic bottles and diapers. Why the BIG disconnect?
    Lets see a study on that!

    Does Earth Day absolve their conscience or does narcissistic personality disorder? Is MTV's Jack Ass exemplifying stupidity at play responsible? Is the dearth of Clear Channel's environmental outreach messages across their multimedia empire?
    Either way, others are negatively impacted by the behavior with losses caused by debris, costly cleanups and lost civic and tourism value. What makes some people think trashing something is OK? What wires have been crossed or are disconnected from logic?
    Its time to put a face on pollution and polluters with social media tools, flip phones and publicized exposure.
    I suggest a truthful campaign--label folks correctly
    "Remember-Only Losers Litter" and
    "Only Losers Pollute"

    Once polluters are exposed, their behavior is correctly labeled and the loser mentality it's demonstrating, we'll start to see better environmental responsibility.

    When civic, charity and religious groups stop releasing balloons at commemorative events, (creating non-point pollution), and replace it by planting a public garden-- a longer lasting positive impact will be created as participants place a bulb or seed in a commemorative perennial display with better displays of honor and affection. Instead, of strings with plastic pieces stuck on trees, wrapped around axles, on wildlife, or a balloon bouncing about a crowded highway. Which shows more honor for loved ones or causes?
    Maybe Clear Channel and MTV management will collectively get the message one day, before they choke, trip and gasp on an environment created by their failure to act accountable and promote stewardship.

    Make "Every day" an environmental day.

  2. Paula Lynn from Who Else Unlimited, April 11, 2011 at 8:56 p.m.

    You have got a point C.M.T. Putting people in public stocks had a purpose. Your points just translate it with another tool. All good unless it backfires into more jackasses.

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