Environmental concern worldwide has continued to fall since 2009 and is now at a 20-year low, according to a multi-country poll by GlobalScan.
The finding is based on a poll of 22,812 people in 22 countries who were interviewed face-to-face or by telephone in the second half of 2012. All participants were asked to rate the seriousness of six environmental problems: air pollution, water pollution, species loss, automobile emissions, fresh water shortages and climate change.
The numbers were compared to statistics from the past, as 12 of the countries have been polled regularly since 1992. The poll found that fewer people consider these issues “very serious” than at any other time in the last 20 years. The only notable exception was with climate change—concern was lower from 1998 to 2003 than it is now. The sharpest decline in worry over issues such as water pollution and biodiversity occurred in the last two years. And although concern first dropped in developed nations, this year’s numbers show that people from developing economies are also worrying less.
Even though participants rated their level of concern lower than in previous years, the majority of those polled still considered most environmental problems to be “very serious.” Water pollution was seen as the most pressing concern.
In the company's press release, GlobeScan Chairman Doug Miller explained why public concern may be declining.
“Scientists report that evidence of environmental damage is stronger than ever—but our data shows that economic crisis and a lack of political leadership mean that the public are starting to tune out. Those who care about mobilizing public opinion on the environment need to find new messages in order to reinvigorate a stalled debate.”
To read more about the poll, visit the GlobeScan website.