Global warming features prominently in press coverage, yet the average American is more concerned about local environmental issues than about global warming. In a recent survey US citizens expressed hesitance to support efforts combating environmental threats at the global level. Instead, Americans care about their local communities and want to see government action taken toward local and national issues.
The survey, conducted by the University of Missouri, reveals that the U.S. public, while aware of the deteriorating global environment, is concerned predominantly with local and national environmental issues.
David Konisky, a policy research scholar with the university’s Institute of Public Policy who lead the research, says the survey’s results are surprising because massive media attention for global warming would suggest a different scenario. Konisky polled 1,000 adults about their environmental attitudes and preferences for government action to address a wide set of environmental issues. He put the findings down to a division of opinion about the severity of climate change. This appears to make sense because the study also revealed strong correlations between individuals’ environmental preferences and their political attributes.
A respondent’s political opinions appeared to dominate their concerns for the environment. Democrats and political liberals clearly express more desire for governmental action to address environmental problems. Republicans and ideological conservatives are much less enthusiastic about further government intervention.
Detailed findings of the survey are that a strong majority of Americans are generally most concerned about the global environment. The main issues the respondents want government officials to deal with are protecting community drinking water, reducing pollution of U.S. rivers and lakes, and improving urban air pollution issues like smog. The generic term global warming was the eighth most important issue that polled citizens wanted government officials to address.