Post from Kathy Steinberg (Research Manager and Co-Leader of the Green Center of Excellence at Harris Interactive):
A Harris Poll released earlier this week revealed that about half of U.S. adults (51%) believe that environmental and economic goals are often aligned, compared to less than one-third (31%) who feel that the two are in conflict and that one must always be prioritized over the other.
The economy has certainly not improved over the course of the last 6 months – in fact, the global financial situation may break, if it bends any further. So, when forced to choose, U.S. adults (according to a July Harris Poll) opt for economic growth and development (63%) over environmental protection (27%) for their region of the country. And we wouldn’t expect any different…
In such a weak economy, more than 1 in 2 U.S. adults feel that governments around the world should focus on economic growth (53%) and place the environment as a secondary priority. That being said, however, as many as two in three U.S. adults (66%) feel governments should be making more effort today to be environmentally conscious than they were one year ago.
Not surprisingly, the latest Harris Poll found significant differences between the opinions of Democrats, Independents, and Republicans: Democrats (56%) and Independents (58%) are more likely to believe that environmental and economic goals are aligned than Republicans (41%) are. And, Democrats and Independents are much more likely to feel the government should be expending more effort to be environmentally conscious (80% Democrat and 72% Independent vs. 45% Republican).
With the Oval Office now being occupied by a Democratic president whose policies and ideals differ from those of his predecessor on exactly this point, Democrats and Independents are likely to get what they wish for. Obama’s new energy plan seeks to address our dependence on foreign oil, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, increase the number of hybrid cars on America’s highways, and most importantly, create millions of new jobs by investing in the private sector clean energy market. This key tenet of Obama’s energy policy underscores what half of the American public already believes: we do not need to make a trade-off between saving our planet and fixing the economy.
What are you personally doing to protect the environment? And, do you believe it should remain a top priority for this administration to address? If so, at what cost?