A writer for an environmental website cannot help but being concerned about a Harris poll that shows interest in environmental issues to be waning. The numbers were not all that strong to begin with, and appear to be on the decline. What's going on here?
Not only are fewer Americans behaving in environmentally-friendly ways, but many are now also less likely to embrace, or be influenced by, "green" attitudes - just over 1 in 3 U.S. adults (36%) say they are concerned about the planet they are leaving behind for future generations, compared to more than 2 in 5 adults (43%) who said so in 2009. And, only 28% of adults say environmental issues are very or extremely important to them when deciding how to vote for political candidates, compared to more than 1 in 3 adults (36%) who said this was important to them in 2009. And, only 28% of adults say environmental issues are very or extremely important to them when deciding how to vote for political candidates, compared to more than 1 in 3 adults (36%) who said this was important to them in 2009.
FREQUENCY OF VARIOUS GREEN BEHAVIORS
Summary of those saying "Always" or "Often"
My first thought was that it was economic, that people were thinking more about money than about environmental issues, and were buying cheap instead of green. But this table shows people leaving lights on, reusing less and wasting more water, all activities that are the opposite of frugal.
"How important are environmental issues to you when it comes to making decisions about...?"
Summary of those saying "Extremely important" or "Very important"
In the end, I think this graph tells the story. The Harris Poll was taken between November 8 and 15, a week to two weeks after the election. It shows negligible shift in attitudes to purchasing or jobs, but a huge shift in how environmental issues affect voting. All at a time when Republicans were on a roll, attacking the EPA, calling bikes socialist and talking of repealing lightbulb legislation. Environmentalism has become so polarized and politicized that it would be surprising if it did not follow the political trends.
I am no Nate Silver, but I do wonder if these results are not coloured by the election. What do you think?