Gallup Poll Finds 51% of Americans Now Put Economy Over Environment; Energy Development and Environment Almost Equal
20 March 2009
For the first time in Gallup’s 25-year history of asking Americans about the trade-off between environmental protection and economic growth, a majority of Americans say economic growth should be given the priority, even if the environment suffers to some extent.
|Environment vs. Economy. Click to enlarge.|
Gallup first asked Americans about this trade-off in 1984, at which time over 60% chose the environmental option. Support for the environment was particularly high in 1990-1991, and in the late 1990s and 2000.
The percentage of Americans choosing the environment slipped below 50% in 2003 and 2004, but was still higher than the percentage choosing the economy. Sentiments have moved up and down over the last several years, but this year, the percentage of Americans choosing the environment fell all the way to 42%, while the percentage choosing the economy jumped to 51%.
Gallup concludes that the reason for this shift in priorities almost certainly has to do with the current economic recession. The findings reflect many recent Gallup results showing how primary the economy is in Americans’ minds, and help document the fact of life that in times of economic stress, the public can be persuaded to put off or ignore environmental concerns if need be in order to rejuvenate the economy, the company said.
|Environment vs. Energy production. Click to enlarge.|
Environment vs. Energy production. Although the importance of energy as a policy concern in Americans’ minds has moderated since last summer’s high gas prices, a different trade-off question shows that Americans are more inclined now than in past years to favor giving the priority to energy production over the environment.
The question, which Gallup has used in this format since 2001, asks Americans whether they favor protection of the environment at the risk of limiting energy supplies, or favor the development of US energy supplies at the risk of harming the environment. Respondents this year are essentially equally likely to choose the environmental option as they are to choose the energy production option, marking—albeit by just one or two percentage points—the highest percentage choosing energy and the lowest percentage choosing the environment in the nine years of asking the question.
|Environment vs. Economy, by party ID. Click to enlarge.|
Partisan differences. There are, Gallup says, predictably significant partisan differences in the responses to these trade-off questions. However, only 50% of Democrats, who typically have been the most environmentally oriented in their policy positions, opt for the environmental protection position—just six points higher than the percentage of Democrats choosing economic growth. (Republicans and independents are more likely to choose economic growth.) This finding suggests that the economic crisis may present a real philosophical dilemma to those who ordinarily are strongly supportive of environmental protection, but who may back off in the face of the perceived need to restore economic growth, Gallup says.
|Environment vs. Energy production, by party ID. Click to enlarge.|
The partisan spread is somewhat larger for the trade-off question dealing with energy and the environment. Republicans and Democrats are almost perfect mirror images of each other in response to this question, with two-thirds of Republicans opting for energy over the protection of the environment, while two-thirds of Democrats hold the opposite view.
There is little question that the current economic crisis poses a significant challenge for the environmental movement in this country. Previous Gallup research has shown that concern about global warming has diminished this year, and the research reviewed here shows clearly that Americans are more willing than ever to forgo protection of the environment if needed in order to ensure economic growth or the production of energy. With the economy as bad as it has been in recent memory, Americans’ preferences have swung even more strongly in the direction of the economy over the environment.—Gallup
(Although a majority of Americans believe the seriousness of global warming is either correctly portrayed in the news or underestimated, the Gallup poll earlier in March found that a record-high 41% now say it is exaggerated. This represents the highest level of public skepticism about mainstream reporting on global warming seen in more than a decade of Gallup polling on the subject.)
Results are based on telephone interviews with 1,012 national adults, aged 18 and older, conducted March 5-8, 2009. For results based on the total sample of national adults, one can say with 95% confidence that the maximum margin of sampling error is ±3 percentage points. Interviews are conducted with respondents on land-line telephones (for respondents with a land-line telephone) and cellular phones (for respondents who are cell-phone only).
This is a stupid poll. We don't need to make the trade-off they talk about. We can have a growing economy and environmental protection. In fact, I would say they are inextricably linked. The fact that they keeping asking questions like this perpetuates the notion that there must be a trade-off.
Posted by: Peter9909 | 20 March 2009 at 02:40 PM
"...the Gallup poll earlier in March found that a record-high 41% now say it [AGW] is exaggerated. This represents the highest level of public skepticism about mainstream reporting on global warming seen in more than a decade of Gallup polling on the subject."
This is the handwriting Algor should be concerned with.
To REAL business people this indicates it's time to redirect the AGW campaign to the issues some campaigners REALLY are concerned about: making HUGE money from carbon Cap N' Trade schemes and population growth. The latter is a good issue which should be addressed head-on and NOT via a disreputable "global warming" campaign.
Again people, human beings are willing to face REAL issues. Population is a REAL issue. Energy independence is a REAL issue. Controlling the amount of CO2 in atmosphere is bulsh*t and you all know it.
Posted by: Reel$$ | 20 March 2009 at 04:02 PM
Reel$$: Although some people will certainly make money from Cap and Trade, it will overall raise costs. Why would we be willing to engage in such a scheme unless we thought that the CO2 being regulated was causing environmental problems?
And how would we make money from population growth? Or should we be making money from keeping the population from growing? It is not clear here what you mean.
Posted by: Peter9909 | 20 March 2009 at 04:40 PM
You are right Peter, my post is unclear. The poll indicating a rise in AGW skeptics is the handwriting. You ask why would we engage in Cap N' Trade unless we thought it was causing enviro problems? A cynic would say purely for the money.
Since we have no hard evidence or science that man-made CO2 causes global warming - the need to cap n trade is a specious reaction that will only enrich traders (it's a commodity). Revenues will presumably be used to hasten alternative energy implementation. Fine. Why not just tax the fuel? Coal. Gas. Diesel. You need revenues to pay for programs? Don't "trade" CO2 emissions. CO2 is NOT SO4 or CO or another REAL toxic pollutant.
On the population front straight forward campaigns are proper: empower women. Contraception. Raised standards of living. Each of these CAN earn money - if that's the goal. Presumably it's not.
And please muzzle Gore, the Guardian and Hansen. They make the whole show look bad.
Posted by: Reel$$ | 20 March 2009 at 05:28 PM
"Since we have no hard evidence or science that man-made CO2 causes global warming"
I suggest you do a bit of reading.
Posted by: Scatter | 20 March 2009 at 05:36 PM
It is NOT and either/or proposition. You can have a good environment AND an expanding economy. Imagine all the jobs that solar, wind, EVs, PHEVs and other new industries will create. This either/or thinking has been programmed in over the years and must be shown to be false once and for all.
Posted by: SJC | 20 March 2009 at 05:50 PM
No sensible person, regardless of political orientation, wants to have dirty air and water, or degraded environment. In developed countries people tend to want clean environment regardless of cost.
The problem with such polls is that they mix together desire of people to live in clean environment (and reduce emissions of real pollutants) and hoax that CO2 emissions are degrading the environment. If asked separately, poll’s results will be way different.
Also note, that increased employment in, say, energy sector means that efficiency and productivity per worker in such sector are reduced. If such reduced efficiency leads to cleaner environment, energy independence, stable economy, or other real benefits, it is worth to pursue. For example, pollution control in modern coal fired power stations amounts for 1/3 of total capital costs, and all of us are OK with such "burden". If we are talking about destruction of industrial civilization for sole purpose to get Al Gore and other scumbegs rich from cap-and-trade schemes, is it worth it?
Posted by: Andrey Levin | 20 March 2009 at 07:01 PM
"...people tend to want clean environment regardless of cost."
Cost is always a factor, but when you can pay that cost through producing value added renewable energy products and services, you get BOTH. It is when people are conditioned to think that you can ONLY have prosperity OR a clean environment, we run into a false choice.
Posted by: SJC | 20 March 2009 at 09:10 PM
"We can have a growing economy and environmental protection. In fact, I would say they are inextricably linked."
"It is when people are conditioned to think that you can ONLY have prosperity OR a clean environment, we run into a false choice."
Is this the new way - If you want it to be true - just believe it and it WILL BE true.
If you spend money on capturing carbon or building expensive PVC power plants while idling dirty plants then you will spend money on making products and will have cleaner power plants but no monitary return to show for it.
How simple can this be.
If you think we can afford cleaner air OK.
If you want to create jobs to make cleaner air instead of a product, OK; but admit that it COSTS to clean the environment.
This is absolutely not complicated enough to justify such foolish ideas.
Posted by: ToppaTom | 20 March 2009 at 10:36 PM
Arrgh I meant to type
.... while idling dirty plants then you will NOT spend money on making products ...
Posted by: ToppaTom | 20 March 2009 at 10:39 PM
Oh it costs to have a clean environment and it also costs to have a dirty one. In the dirty one, the costs are externalized. That is, the polluter does not pay the costs, everyone else does.
If you just want to do the economic analysis, include the health conditions caused by air pollution. Once you include those costs, a clean one may be more cost effective for society.
Posted by: SJC | 20 March 2009 at 11:22 PM
"I suggest you do a bit of reading. "
I did. Now I see what you mean: http://tinyurl.com/d8hcaa
Posted by: Reel$$ | 20 March 2009 at 11:29 PM
"Once you include those costs, a clean one may be more cost effective for society."
Just because something MAY be true, in some few situations does NOT make it true ! !.
That’s like saying “down is up”. If you are telling a joke about a sleeping bag maker who cannot find any goose down, OK. Otherwise it is a lie.
I think this is what you get when you cross a lawyer with a flower child.
A liar that believes his own lies.
Like "It depends on what the meaning of the word 'is' is.”
If you or I believe that there is a small possibility that man made CO2 does not cause GW should we honestly say it does not?
Honesty has given way to "the cause".
Posted by: ToppaTom | 21 March 2009 at 01:22 AM
It is very true that wealthy countries have the time and money to strive for, and maintain, a pristine environment. Poor countries, where it's people are struggling to survive, may "want' a clean environment but they would prefer living over cleanliness (clean but dead does not poll well). It's a wonder that there aren't more people upset over president Obama driving the economy down like he is (see the stock market since his election, and after ever major speech, for proof). Obama will hurt the environment by socializing our country.
Posted by: The Goracle | 21 March 2009 at 06:28 AM
“If you just want to do the economic analysis, include the health conditions caused by air pollution.”
What air pollution is SJC talking about?
It is pretty obvious that the source of air pollution in California is consumers who choose a life style center around POV. This is a problem I can solve while saving a great deal of money for California consumers. Stop selling gasoline in California.
Posted by: Kit P | 21 March 2009 at 08:23 AM
It seems like some of you just want to argue. This is why this site goes down hill. Congress is about debating the merits of ideas and issues with logic. I guess it will go the way of the federal congress and be about blustered beliefs...shame.
Posted by: SJC | 21 March 2009 at 10:37 AM
“It seems like some of you just want to argue.”
That is what SJC want to do do. SJC the first step in solving a problem is identifying it. You have to have pollution before can worry about the health effects. If there are health effects, why not more to where there is no pollution.
Posted by: Kit P | 21 March 2009 at 12:04 PM
Is this the new way - If you want it to be true - just believe it and it WILL BE true.
Where did come from , are these the foolish ideas you refer to?
SJC, The bait and jokers are only saying they dont have a clue.
I wonder what the link between environmental concerns and economy that when the economy allow, we all see the wisdom in eco consciousness.
Poverty and desperation leave people with less choices.
but a countries gdp include spending on the environment and provides jobs and stimulates the economy.
I think it is wrong to believe that consumption s the main game for quality of life. Health care while consumed is not is not a commodity.
for example when The Goracle states.
It's a wonder that there aren't more people upset over president Obama driving the economy down like he is (see the stock market since his election, and after ever major speech, for proof). Obama will hurt the environment by socializing our country.
Now we have an example of Wealth as health, quality of life, well being and GDP that just about sums it up.
But goracle and I suspect man of the [poll's less thoughtful respondents would be mostly concerned about stock market, housing 'values?' etc.
The suggestion that one should either move state or stop using transport. Is simply childish but the more serious contributors are about changing the way of doing business I.E. reducing fossil fuel consumption and building the future healthy environment and transport options.
I just dont think the spoilers have any idea.
Posted by: arnold | 23 March 2009 at 05:32 PM
AND the latest Pew Foundation report places "global warming" at the very bottom of 30 areas of voter concern. Wow. People aren't so stupid afterall!
Posted by: Reel$$ | 24 March 2009 at 09:13 AM
True story regarding economy vs. environment:
A small company called GreenCore Technology (formerly Aquacell Technologies Inc., OTC: AQUA - I am invested) is being forced into Chapter 7 by "...a disgruntled investor group - comprised of the hedge fund Iroquois Master Fund and certain individuals within Iroquois...". Other creditors have accepted stock in lieu of cash. Hedge fund/individuals in question insist on cash or liquidation, and have filed an Involuntary Petition in Federal Bankruptcy Court in Delaware under Chapter 7. GreenCore doesn't have enough cash for defense/remedy. Looks bad.
GreenCore has patented off-grid/grid compatible solar powered DC air conditioners powered with batteries charged by a solar panel and/or conventional grid source. Grid can kick in any time as needed; solar takes over when available; or units can function stand-alone. Units purchased for testing by McDonald's (only one franchise, I believe) and the United States Navy. Great potential for reduced-grid home/business cooling and/or remote locations it would seem.
I'm not an expert on any of this - environment or economics - I'm just a small-time speculator, and I thought this company and their ideas were worth investing a few $s in. If this company goes under, I stand to lose a little; if the stock went way up, I'd still just be a small-time speculator - with a few more dreams. My point being I don't feel like a victim, and I didn't envision getting rich from this one small play.
However, IMHO somebody needs to bail out GreenCore. From their letter to stockholders, filed with the SEC yesterday:
"Company management - who has not been paid for nine months - attempted to make a settlement with the disgruntled group for the benefit of the Company, its
shareholders and other creditors. These discussions proved to be unfruitful.
The original Petitioners - which only represent approximately 15% of the total Note holders, and approximately 10% of total creditors - arbitrarily decided that it was in the best interest of the Company's shareholders, other creditors, employees, customers and vendors that our Company be shut down and liquidated. By taking this action, they made it impossible for the Company to see through its mission to succeed and enhance shareholder value.
Despite management's best efforts, we do not believe we will be able to prevent this probable outcome."
I realize that it's possible that Iroquois Master Fund has reasonable grounds, but it sounds like they just want as many $s as they can get as quickly as possible, to heck with everybody else. One might even speculate that GreenCore will be forced to sell their patents, and that maybe there's "someone" waiting in the wings. That's just speculation of course...
The Gallup Poll in this article, at least superficially, maybe tends to polarize the environment/economy continuum, when what we'd like is for them to coexist peacefully. Seems like that can get mighty tough when folks get disgruntled.
I'd give GreenCore as much money as they need to keep going - and buy out Iroquois - if I was a big shot. What I'm hoping is that maybe you, dear reader, are a big shot - oops, I meant to say "a sophisticated investor" of course - or know someone who is, OR maybe you're connected to the federal bailout money in some way, and you can help put a stop to this nonsense.
If you're just a regular guy like me, I hope this was an interesting story about where some people put their priorities in the environmvent "vs" economy debate.
Thank you Scot, Joshua, and Philip of the nobly named Iroquois Master Fund for casting your votes. I'm not at all sure you or anyone else will read this post, but I'd really like to give you a good hard pat on the back for acting on your disgruntledness, and making the world a bluer place in the process. I sure as heck hope you don't need anyone's help on down the road. If I could give you guys a nice little "bonus" for your exemplary actions and hard work - enough to live on for the rest of your lives - I would...just so you'd leave decent folks alone. However, I think maybe there's no bonus, bailout, or buyout big enough to satisfy the likes of you. Excuse me for thinking you are greedy. Please respond if you can explain. Are those darn folks at GreenCore just not pressin' hard enough? Maybe you poor guys got a little over-leveraged, and who can blame you for forcing a little-bitty company with just a few employees and lazy, good-for-nothin' management - that's paid itself $ZERO for the last nine months - out of business to try to cover your bad bets? It's a tough world, and only the strong survive. GreenCore probably made promises, and obviously can't honor their contracts with you, and doggone it, you've got bills to pay, right? Thanks again, and I hope you've enjoyed the good life.
Posted by: mesh | 24 March 2009 at 05:51 PM