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Environmental problems a threat?…

July 6, 2007

…it actually wasn’t meant rhetorically in a recent survey by the Pew Center in Washington.

The conclusion was that there is a 14% increase in the proportion of Americans who say environmental problems are indeed a major global problem (23% in 2002 to 37% in 2007).

U.S. concern is low when looking at other advanced industrial countries, especially since we’re seen by 34 of 37 countries surveyed as “hurting the world’s environment the most,” but the level of increase is still comparable.

Since the environment has been such a hot topic recently, perhaps the 2002 numbers tell more of a story. For example, even though China’s concern only rose 1% since 2002, 69% of Chinese people were concerned about the environment that year. This was the highest proportion of concern of any country in 2002 except for South Korea (73%), and Chinese citizens were three times more concerned than Americans that year.

There is evidence that China’s leaders are catching up to the concerns of its people, even if only as a result of outside forces, but environmental initiatives are continuously canceled out by colossal economic plans.

For instance, new vehicle-emissions regulations are in the works, but they cannot match the exceptional rate of growth in the number of cars (projected to surpass the U.S. at 130 million vehicles by 2020), due to a policy to promote the domestic car industry.

So when will the U.S. approach the higher echelons of concern, if ever?
Hopefully our 14% increase signifies something bigger: that the level of concern in a country won’t always have to correspond with its level of pollution.

Posted by katie facada

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