Exclusive poll: Amid COVID-19, Americans don’t care about climate change anymore
Battered by pandemic and economic collapse, do Americans have the capacity to care about the environment? Not so much, judging by a national poll we just conducted.
We asked a panel of U.S. adults a series of questions about today’s most crucial issues, environmental policy options, and their own behavior. In all three categories, I was personally surprised and discouraged to discover, our devotion to the world around us is flagging.
In a survey we at the Harris Poll conducted last December, American adults said climate change was the number one issue facing society. Today, it comes in second to last on a list of a dozen options, ahead of only overpopulation. Among Gen X men, in fact, more than third dismiss climate change as unimportant. COVID-19 and the recession have, of course, reordered priorities around the world. Still, the coronavirus didn’t elbow aside other issues as muscularly as it did climate change. (Incidentally, global warming is a bigger concern to retirement-age women than any other age group except millennial men.)
Additionally, we asked about policies the government could adopt to fight global warming or help the environment generally. There was majority support for only one of nine initiatives, with 51% endorsing tax credits or rebates for greater energy efficiency in buildings. Moreover, 13% of all respondents say the government should do nothing to improve the environment, a stance that rises to nearly one in five of all survey takers in the South.
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