Earth Day 2012 finds public support for the environment sagging. Yet an eminent British thinker finds hope in the moral constraints of a love for one's local community.
Jamie Green/The Wichita Eagle/AP Photo
This year’s Earth Day comes with a faded shade of green.
The portion of Americans concerned about the planet has dropped significantly in three years (from 43 percent to 34 percent). People are wasting more water and buying fewer all-natural products, according to a Harris poll. Only a quarter now describe themselves as “environmentally conscious.”
At the same time, the percentage of Americans who feel “green guilt” – defined as knowing they could do more for the environment – has risen from 12 percent to 29 percent during the same period, another survey finds.
And, as one might expect after a recession, Americans have flipped their views and now see economic growth as more important than environmental protection, by a 49 percent to 41 percent margin, per yet another survey.
The most surprising report on public opinion, published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, reveals that young adults, known as Millennials, have less concern for the environment than any generation of the past four decades.
This shaky commitment to the environment may have two causes:
One is that the issues, such as climate change, have become just too big and complex to comprehend. It was easy to stop littering. But give up oil and that SUV?