More Americans Giving Priority to Environment over Economic Growth: Gallup Poll

(3BL Media/Justmeans) – In a recent Gallup Poll Social Series survey, Americans have chosen environment as a priority over economic growth by a 50%-to-41% margin. This is a fresh change because ever since the economic downturn of 2008-09, Americans have invariably chosen economic growth over the environment, except for immediately after the BP oil spill in May 2010.

Traditionally, Americans have preferred environmental conservation over economic growth. Nearly every time that Gallup has asked this question over the last three decades, environment has scored over economic priorities. The percentage of Americans, who chose environment over economy, shot up to 71 percent in 1990.

That year was significant because it marked the revival of Earth Day, launched in 1970 by Sen. Gaylord Nelson as a way to promote environmental awareness. The 20th anniversary of Earth Day inspired hundreds of pro-environment groups that demanded tighter environmental regulations for businesses.

This year’s Gallup survey also revealed interesting insights about the age profile of people who prioritize the environment over economy. Americans in the age group of 18 to 29 are most likely to say that environment conservation should be a priority over economic growth. This age group prioritized the environment by a 60%-to30% margin.

Americans in the age group of 65 and above, on the other hand, believe that economic growth should be a priority over the environment. They prioritized economic growth by a margin of 50%-to-39% in the survey. People in the age groups 30 to 49 years and 50 to 64 years prioritize the environment over economy, but the margin of prioritization narrows as the age group becomes older.

One view could be that Americans tend to give priority to the environment when there is a perception that the economy is improving. However, there is a sharp gap between Democrats and Republicans on the issue of prioritization of the environment. This might be explained by the growing polarization between the two political parties over the issue of climate change.

Source: Gallup

Image Credit: Flickr via John Englart (Takver)