Over half of Americans don’t think our society is sufficiently focused on the environment, though they are becoming less inclined to see environmental and economic goals as aligned
NEW YORK, April 16, 2015 /PRNewswire/ — With Earth Day nearing once again, a new Harris Poll finds that 44% of Americans – up from 38% last year – say that the statement “I am concerned about the planet we are leaving behind for future generations” describes them completely or very well; an additional 26% say it describes them fairly well. In the meantime, a majority of Americans (56%) say the current focus on the environment in our society is not going far enough.
These are some of the results of The Harris Poll® of 2,244 adults surveyed online between March 11 and 16, 2015. The full results, including data tables, can be found here.
Changing attitudes towards climate change
While the overall belief that global climate change exists is all but unchanged since last year (with roughly three-fourths of Americans believing it exists), attitudes are shifting when it comes to causality: the percentage of Americans believing humans to be the main cause of global climate change has increased from 45% to 51% year over year, while the percentage who believe it exists but that its causes aren’t related to humans dropped from 30% to 25%. It’s worth noting, though, that over half (55%) of Americans feel the severity of the past winter calls global climate change into question.
Is it easy being green?
Many Americans are making an effort to be more environmentally conscious, with one third of U.S. adults (33%) agreeing that they’re making more of an effort to do so than a year ago. However, Americans remain divided on whether it’s easy (45%) or difficult (49%) to live a green or environmentally conscious lifestyle.
Americans show little consensus in how they feel towards organic products. On one hand, a 57% majority believes labeling food or other products as “organic” is just an excuse to charge more and an identical majority disagrees with the characterization of organic as tasting better or fresher than non-organic. On the other hand, a similar majority of 56% believes organic foods are healthier in comparison to non-organic, but otherwise similar, products.
The environment continues to be a point of widespread dissent at the political level, starting with the question of global climate change. One-fourth of Republicans (25%) don’t believe it exists, compared to just 4% of Democrats and one-in-ten independents (10%). Republicans (36%) are also more likely than Democrats (17%) – with Independents (26%) falling between the two – to say that it exists but that its causes are mainly not related to humans, while Democrats (68%) and Independents (53%) are both far more likely than Republicans (28%) to say that it exists and humans are the main cause.
Democrats and Independents (41% and 40%, respectively) are also more likely than Republicans (30%) to see environmental and economic goals as often aligned, while Republicans (38%) are more likely to believe a choice needs to be made between the two (vs. 29% each Democrats and Independents).
As to the question of whether our society’s current focus on the environment is going too far or not far enough, a strong majority of Democrats (73%) and a slim majority of Independents (54%) say “not far enough,” with 35% of Republicans indicating the same. Four in ten Republicans (39%), one-fourth of Independents (24%) and fewer than one-in-ten Democrats (7%) say “too far.”
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This Harris Poll was conducted online within the United States between March 11 and 16, 2015 among 2,244 adults (aged 18 and over). Figures for age, sex, race/ethnicity, education, region and household income were weighted where necessary to bring them into line with their actual proportions in the population. Propensity score weighting was also used to adjust for respondents’ propensity to be online.
All sample surveys and polls, whether or not they use probability sampling, are subject to multiple sources of error which are most often not possible to quantify or estimate, including sampling error, coverage error, error associated with nonresponse, error associated with question wording and response options, and post-survey weighting and adjustments. Therefore, The Harris Poll avoids the words “margin of error” as they are misleading. All that can be calculated are different possible sampling errors with different probabilities for pure, unweighted, random samples with 100% response rates. These are only theoretical because no published polls come close to this ideal.
Respondents for this survey were selected from among those who have agreed to participate in Harris Poll surveys. The data have been weighted to reflect the composition of the adult population. Because the sample is based on those who agreed to participate in our panel, no estimates of theoretical sampling error can be calculated.
These statements conform to the principles of disclosure of the National Council on Public Polls.
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The Harris Poll® #21, April 16, 2015
By Larry Shannon-Missal, Managing Editor, The Harris Poll
About The Harris Poll®
Begun in 1963, The Harris Poll is one of the longest running surveys measuring public opinion in the U.S. and is highly regarded throughout the world. The nationally representative polls, conducted primarily online, measure the knowledge, opinions, behaviors and motivations of the general public. New and trended polls on a wide variety of subjects including politics, the economy, healthcare, foreign affairs, science and technology, sports and entertainment, and lifestyles are published weekly. For more information, or to see other recent polls, visit the Harris Poll News Room.
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SOURCE The Harris Poll