Public Opinion Snapshot: Americans Still Support Environmental Protection

Figure 1by Ruy Teixeira

Given today’s economic problems, you’d think the public would be in a surly mood about environmental protection, seeing it as a secondary and perhaps conflicting priority to jobs and economic growth. That’s certainly what conservatives are hoping as they continue to push their environment-wrecking agenda.

Turns out, though, the public didn’t get the memo. In the recently released poll from Yale University’s and George Mason University’s climate change communication programs, 58 percent of poll respondents said that protecting the environment improves economic growth and creates new jobs. Just 17 percent thought environmental protection hurts growth and jobs, and 25 percent thought there was no effect.

In the same poll, when asked to choose directly which was more important—environmental protection or economic growth—the public decisively favored protecting the environment 62 percent to 38 percent when there is a conflict between the two goals.

Figure 2

So no, the bad economy has not turned the public off to environmental protection. Conservatives, if they are wise, will factor that into their political calculations.

Ruy Teixeira is a Senior Fellow at the Center for American Progress. This is a CAP cross-post.

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3 Responses to Public Opinion Snapshot: Americans Still Support Environmental Protection

  1. James says:

    You remember the good old days before Citizens United, when polls like this might have meant something?

  2. Ken Barrows says:

    Promotes economic growth? Who cares? Growth is passe.

  3. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    Exactly. As long as ‘progressive’, ‘social democratic’ or ‘Third Way’ ideologues continue to accept the language and mentality of the Right eg making ‘growth’ the great goal of existence, then the Right wins and ecological destruction goes on. Growth is no longer necessary-the world contains far more wealth, gained by the labour of billions over centuries and from the destruction of the natural world, than is needed to provide everybody with a decent sufficiency and freedom from want. The problem is that the wealth is concentrated in so few hands, and it requires radical redistribution. Any morally decent and rational party which wishes to avert species suicide absolutely must argue for redistribution and fairness, otherwise they have given in a priori to the Right’s genocidal doctrines.