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Global warming tops list of Americans’ environmental concerns

Global warming tops list of Americans’ environmental concerns

Global warming tops list of Americans’ environmental concerns
October 31, 2006

Americans now rank climate change as the country’s most important environmental concern according to a survey released today by MIT.

The poll found that almost three-quarters of the respondents felt the government should do more to deal with global warming and 60 percent agreed that there’s enough evidence to warrant some level of action. It also found that individuals were willing to contribute their own money to help prevent climate change – am average of $21 more per month on their electricity bill to “solve” global warming.

The findings mark a dramatic shift from three years ago, when climate change ranked sixth out of 10 environmental concerns.

“While terrorism and the war in Iraq are the main issues of national concern, there’s been a remarkable increase in the American public’s recognition of global warming and their willingness to do something about it,” said Stephen Ansolabehere, a political science professor at MIT.

Almost half of the more than 1,200 respondents ranked global warming in first or second place on their list of the “most important environmental problems facing the U.S. today.” In 2003, destruction of ecosystems, water pollution and toxic waste ranked higher.

Nevertheless, respondents’ understanding of climate change science changed little since the 2003 survey.

“It’s not that people have learned something fundamental about the science, but they’ve come to understand that this problem is real,” said Ansolabehere. “It takes a prolonged discussion of a complex topic like this really to move public concern, and what’s happened over the past three years has got to continue.”

This article is based on a Massachusetts Institute of Technology news release written by Nancy Stauffer of the MIT Laboratory for Energy and the Environment.

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