There was nothing surprising to me from the front page story in Sunday’s Arizona Republic about how Americans are less focused on the environment in our economic recession.
Facing the worst recession in generations, Americans said the environment ranked low on the list of concerns. A survey taken in Phoenix found two-thirds of those asked said they cared less about the planet this year than last. For the first time in 25 years, people told Gallup they would sacrifice environmental protection for economic growth…
What pollsters asked this year were the same basic questions they always ask: What issues concern you most? This year, the environment slid precipitously while the economy, health care, jobs, crime and education grew in importance. In one survey, concern about jobs gained 21 percentage points, while concern about the environment fell by 15 points. A year ago, environment ranked 10th on the overall list of concerns; by January, it had fallen to 16th.
A second question rattled the poll takers a little more. For the first time in a quarter century of asking, Americans told Gallup that economic growth should take priority, even if it comes at the expense of the environment. Until this year, the poll found people willing to pay to protect the planet.
It’s always easier to “be green” when times are good economically. When people are much more cost-conscious the environment tends to take a back seat. That concerns environmental activists because there is less focus on their cause. However, what environmental activists fear even more is that tough economic times expose the truth about the costs of “being green.”
We always hear from the green activists that it doesn’t cost more to be green, or that being green will promote economic activity, etc. Obviously, that’s not true – hybrids are more expensive than conventional cars and solar or wind energy are astronomically more expensive than coal or natural gas. If we were to live and our economy were to function the way environmental activists have been preaching for the last two decades we would be in a permanent depression.
The bottom line is that people do think green – at least the shade of green that is money.