Water pollution near top of America’s fears
A May 2017 poll found that water pollution, air pollution, and climate change rank high on Americans’ list of top fears.
Concern about environmental problems was much higher than during the 2016 survey, and the spike in worry was likely due to the intervening election.
As shown in the graphic below from Chapman University, four of the top 10 fears dealt with environmental threats: “pollution of oceans, rivers and lakes,” “pollution of drinking water,” “global warming and climate change,” and “air pollution.” For all four of these problems, between 45 percent and 53 percent of Americans said they were “afraid” or “very afraid.” What is, perhaps, most striking about American fear in 2017 is that environmental fears, including water pollution and drinking water quality, figure more prominently than ever before.
In 2017, there was a sharp increase in environmental fears, likely due to fears about policy changes in Washington.
The Trump Administration has charted a drastically different path; ordering the US Environmental Protection Agency not to enforce major pollution laws, and firing the EPA’s entire Science Advisory Board.
If you look at the 2016 version of the fear index, environmental problems are nowhere to be found: Likewise, the 2015 survey didn’t have any environmental issues crack the top 10.
It was a different story in 2017, when concern about environmental problems spiked.
I’ve also added data on the change from 2016 to 2017.
Pollution of oceans, rivers, and lakes: up 23.1 percent Pollution of drinking water: up 22.5 percent Global warming and climate change: up 15.7 percent Air pollution: up 24.2 percent Extinction of plant and animal species: up 15.6 percent Oil spills: up 9.4 percent The Chapman survey divides fears into a number of domains, such as environmental, economic, natural disasters, and technology.
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