Are Americans Giving Up On The Environment?

Flickr/<a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/gsimmonsonca/4189490534/">Gary Simmons</a> (<a href="http://www.creativecommons.org">Creative Commons</a>).


Two new Gallup polls reveal Americans are becoming less concerned about the state of the environment.

A survey released yesterday shows just 34 percent of the public is worried a “great deal” about the environment, down from 40 percent the year before. Meanwhile, a poll published today reveals Americans are less troubled about pollution, global warming, deforestation, and animal and plant extinction than at any point in the past 20 years.

There are two ways to decipher these numbers. One is that the public is more content with environmental progress than before, so they have less to gripe about. Obama is certainly a more eco-friendly president than Bush, the climate bill is a buzzed-about legislative possibility, and the stimulus was a relative boon for the planet.

But the statistics may also indicate public indifference or even apathy. Thanks in large part to partisan bickering and scandals such as Snowpocalypse and ClimateGate, confusion over global warming has reached a fevered pitch. At the same time, the economic slump is swallowing the public’s attention. What we may be witnessing is an endemic shift in prioritization, which raises the question: What, if anything, can instill a renewed sense of purpose?

DOES IT FEEL LIKE POLITICS IS AT A BREAKING POINT?

Headshot of Editor in Chief of Mother Jones, Clara Jeffery

It sure feels that way to me, and here at Mother Jones, we’ve been thinking a lot about what journalism needs to do differently, and how we can have the biggest impact.

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We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We want to dig into the forces and decisions that have allowed massive conflicts of interest, influence peddling, and win-at-all-costs politics to flourish.

It's unlike anything we've done, and we have seed funding to get started, but we're looking to raise $500,000 from readers by July when we'll be making key budgeting decisions—and the more resources we have by then, the deeper we can dig. If our plan sounds good to you, please help kickstart it with a tax-deductible donation today.

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Signed by Clara Jeffery

Clara Jeffery, Editor-in-Chief

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