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April is upon us, and among the things springing forth is the annual crop of public opinion polls tracking Americans’ attitudes on environmental issues.
This year, I’ve resurrected what used to be an annual exercise for me, at least between 2007 and 2015: Combing the latest surveys to glean insights about how public attitudes on environmental issues, and climate change in particular, may be shifting.
Why did I stop? The survey results became numbingly repetitive: Yes, most Americans are concerned about air and water quality, climate change and other issues. Yes, they want to work for and buy from companies that they perceive to be proactive on these issues. Yes, they are willing to make personal changes in the name of protecting the planet. But no, they don’t want to pay more or suffer (m)any inconveniences when doing so.
In the run-up to this month’s 49th annual Earth Day commemoration, I dipped my editorial toe back in these waters, digging through the past six months or so of polling to see where we are.
These days, there are fewer polls to choose from. Over the past few years, what had been a bumper crop — a dozen or more environmental polls from organizations large and small — has withered to relatively slim pickings, as polling organizations, and the corporate and media sponsors that sponsor them, seem to have moved on to other social and political issues. But there’s still a decent number from which to sample, nearly all of which focus on climate and energy topics.
Here are the takeaways, 2019 edition.