Climate Change, Conservation, Environmental Hazards, Green

New Poll Investigates Americans’ Thoughts on Environmental Issues

air pollution
A newly-released poll describes current American thought about environmental issues.
Image: Shutterstock

The Yale School of Forestry & Environmental studies (F&ES) has released the initial findings from the first of a series of annual polls on American thoughts regarding environmental and consumer action.  The poll was done in collaboration with the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research in Chicago, and the results provide an interesting look into how Americans view environmental policy.

Though most of the 1,578 American adults polled believe that the US should be a leader in the fight against global warming, climate change in particular was not shown to be a particular concern when compared to other environmental issues.  According to the poll results, Americans are more concerned about international climate treaty negotiations and how environmental protection will improve the economy by providing new jobs.

“Public understanding of environmental issues–from global warming to water pollution to the loss of biodiversity–is more important than ever, as many Americans work to create a more sustainable future,” said Anthony Leiserowitz, a research scientist and faculty member at F&ES.

Trevor Tompson, NORC vice president and director of the AP-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research, explained that public opinion about the environment can be difficult to understand. The purpose of this annual poll, he said, is to do thorough research that can be used to inform journalists and policymakers about the nature of public opinion and consumer choices on the subject.

Several key results included learning that 56% of Americans accept that global warming is happening (compared to 20% who don’t and 23% who are unsure).  Also, the majority of Americans are optimistic about potential economic outcomes from enhanced environmental policy.

These results are the subject of the first brief based on the data from the 2014 poll.  Several other reports are forthcoming, and the poll will be repeated annually.

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