Poll: Climate Change Ranks Low Among U.S. Concerns

Poll: Climate Change Ranks Low Among U.S. Concerns
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Among issues that worry Americans, climate change concerns just 24 percent of them “a great deal,” according to a new Gallup poll.

Coupled with quality of the environment, climate change nearly scrapes the bottom of a 15-issue list the pollster asked respondents to rate for its annual March environment survey, the results of which were released Wednesday.

Gallup reports that the economy, federal spending and health care were the most-pressing issues for Americans. Only race relations inspired less worry than climate change. Those two issues received concern responses of “only a little” or “not at all” from a majority of those polled.

By comparison, more than half of respondents rated 12 other issues as matters they worry about at least “a fair amount.” Last month, Secretary of State John Kerry made headlines by calling climate change as big a national security threat as terrorism, but those surveyed appear to disagree: The possibility of a future terrorist attack in the U.S. was among the 13 issues a majority of respondents fret about a “fair amount” or “a great deal.”

Regarding quality of the environment, Gallup found only 31 percent of participants worry about it “a great deal”; this is the lowest percentage the issue has garnered since Gallup began polling on it in 2001.

Considerably fewer Republican and Republican-leaning respondents expressed “a great deal” of worry over climate change (just 10 percent) compared to Democrats and those who lean Democratic (36 percent).

The findings’ release comes in the wake of an all-night “talkathon” more than two dozen Democrats staged on the Senate floor Monday to highlight the effects of climate change as part of Congress’s newly formed Climate Action Task Force. The event was welcomed by White House Press Secretary Jay Carney, who cited President Obama’s efforts to reduce carbon emissions.

The findings by Gallup seem to counter an assertion made by one of the event’s organizers, Sen. Barbara Boxer, who said Americans are open to the lawmakers’ message. Gallup concluded citizens’ environmental concerns would need to increase considerably before meaningful legislation on the issue could be passed.

The survey of 513 randomly selected people, conducted via telephone March 6-9, had a margin error of plus or minus six percentage points. 

Jose R. Gonzalez is an intern for RealClearPolitics.


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