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Continuing its set of opinion surveys in the run-up to Earth Day, Gallup has released the results of another poll, finding that the percent of American adults who say that “protection of the environment should be given priority even at the risk of curbing economic growth” has dropped by 15% since 2018. Experts say that this number often correlates with unemployment, which the COVID-19 pandemic greatly increased, so it could be an aberration. Environmental advocates hope that with higher vaccination rates and growing economic recovery, Americans can refocus and reunite behind the fight for clean air and water, and to address climate change.
Approximately 50% of Americans now believe that the environment should be prioritized over the economy, down from 60% in early 2020 and 65% in 2018.
Although this new statistic is in keeping with the average opinion since 2001, it’s drastically lower than the average of 66%, which held from 1985 to 2000. Within these averages, however, are significant fluctuations; in 2001, the rate dropped from 70% the previous year to just 47%.
Over the years, researchers have noted that environmental priorities suffer in the wake of major events like the 9/11 attacks, the Great Recession, and even the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. They found that when unemployment ticks above 7%, Americans will prioritize the economy over the environment, a trend that lasted from 2008 to 2013.
Under the looming threat of Coronavirus, members of both parties have become more likely to choose the economy over the environment, but the disparities are larger than ever.
For Democrats, those numbers are significantly lower, landing at 23% this year, compared to 16% last year.
Even among Democrats, however, the number who prioritize the environment dropped 10%, from 81% in early 2020 to 71% in 2021.
But There’s Still Hope…
As vaccination rates reach 20%, an achievement that felt unimaginable just four months ago, economists are seeing the unemployment rate edging down, dropping below 6% in March. As Americans get back to a (close to) normal life, experts expect them to embrace Biden’s climate action plans, which he has said could create 10 million new jobs in clean energy and infrastructure and pull the nation out of the COVID-19 slump.
The Biden administration is hoping to move the United States into the electric vehicle era through massive investments in incentives to get EVs on the road as well as the build-out of 500,000 EV charging stations across the country. Yet this revolution is reliant upon Americans making the switch to EVs in mass numbers. As […]
Recently, Transportation for America’s Director Beth Osborne sat down to speak with former Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx (now, Chief Policy Officer at Lyft) about how a massive investment in infrastructure can address inequality and provide innovative transportation solutions for a multitude of communities. From micro mobility, to reassessing freeways, and the expansion of public transit, […]
This week we sat down with Congressman Ted Lieu who represents California’s 33rd Congressional district. His district also happens to be one of the most climate-vulnerable regions in the nation where wildfires, extreme heat, and sea-level rise are creating conditions that necessitate comprehensive climate action from the federal government. More specifically, the Congressman told us […]
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