With Americans busy battling the ravages of the Obama economy, a new Gallup poll finds that citizens' worries about environmental issues are at record lows.
From 2000 to 2012, the percentage of those who said they worry "a great deal" about drinking water pollution has plunged -24 points (from 72% to 48%), and worries about air pollution have fallen -23 points (from 59% to 36%).
Global warming concerns have also cooled. In fact, of the seven environmental issues Gallup tested, worries about global warming finished dead last.
Gallup offered two explanations for the study's findings:
Americans' concerns about environmental problems have dropped in recent years, coincident with their drop in support for various environmental policies and the higher priority they assign to economic growth than to environmental protection.
There are two likely explanations for the declining concern. First, Americans are a bit more positive now than they have been in the past about the quality of the environment. Second, the economic downturn has forced Americans to focus more on bread-and-butter economic issues than quality-of-life issues. It may be no coincidence that environmental concern was highest in 2000, when the U.S. was enjoying one of the strongest economies in recent memory, and that environmental concern has reached new lows recently, after the worst financial downturn in the last 25 years.
Gallup's poll was based on a random sample of 1,024 U.S. adults and has a margin of error of ±4 percentage points.