Poll Finds Environmental Concern on the Decline

Environmental News Service

PRINCETON, New Jersey, April 17, 2003 (ENS) - Gallup's annual Environment/Earth Day poll unearthed a disconnect between concern for the environment and support for further measures to protect the environment.
It found that Americans grew more negative over the past year about the quality of the environment in the United States, but those surveyed were less likely that years past to favor aggressive action to correct environmental problems.

According to Gallup, which surveyed a random selection of 1,003 American adults, aged 18 and older in March about the environment, this disconnect appears to be largely the result of heightened concern about the U.S. economy.

The percentage of Americans holding a negative view of the nation's environmental conditions increased from 38 percent in 2002 to 47 percent this year.

But Gallup says one of the "most striking findings" in the poll comes from a question that asks Americans whether environmental protection or economic growth should be given priority when the two interests conflict.

This year's results show the lowest percentage ever recorded of Americans choosing environmental protection since the question was first asked in 1984.

Only 47 percent of those surveyed said protection of the environment should be given priority, with 42 percent in favor of economic growth taking priority.

This compares with last year's poll, which found 54 percent in favor of the environment and 36 percent for economic growth, but through much of the 1990s Gallup says the public sided with the environment over the economy by more than a two to one margin.

Compared to last year, the percentage of Americans who believe either "immediate, drastic action" or "some additional action" is needed to prevent major environmental disruptions fell from 84 percent to 79 percent.


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