Front Porch Blog

Polls, Politics, and the Power of Your Voice

With the elections coming up in only a few months, public opinion polls are starting to become more common. There are bound to be thousands of horse race polls (Obama vs. Romney), but politicians are often more interested in issue polls, such as the one released by the Washington Post recently, which asked people if they thought the natural environment is better, worse, or about the same as it was 10 years ago.
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Only 10% believe the environment is better, while a majority, 58%, believe the environment is worse now than it was 10 years ago. Unfortunately, the 58% are quite correct, though the public at least being aware of the declining state of the environment should be viewed as a good thing.

The next question respondents were asked to answer was “thinking ahead to 10 or so years from now, do you think the natural environment will be better, worse, or about the same?”

A plurality of those polled, 40%, believe that the environment will be worse, while only 19% believe it will be better. That response is troubling. In fairness, this is a difficult question to answer, as most people probably had not put that much thought into it before answering, and certainly don’t know a subjective right or wrong answer. Instead, they are responding with their first inclination; that the environment will be worse off in 10 years than it is now.

What is alarming about this response is that it indicates that people may be resigned to the possibility that humans will continue to make the world a worse place. Perhaps we accept the fact that we have hurt our environment for at least the past decade, and heck, we’ll probably just keep on doing it for another 10 years.

I wish they could have asked two more questions: “How do you feel about that?” and “What are you going to do about it?”

Saying the environment will be worse in the future is a bit of a self-fulfilling prophecy. If people believe that polluting air and water is some unavoidable part of life, than it will continue to go on. If people decide that we deserve better, they can demand that we get something better.

The people who represent you in Congress want to know what you care about. Tell them the environment will be better in 10 years from now, and they can be a part of it. If not, you will find someone else who will.





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  1. Emily Yu on July 10, 2012 at 2:49 pm


    Even though personal lifestyle changes are an important and necessary part of taking action, I think we need to do more than that.

    Politicians may be limited, but legislation can have a huge impact. For example, while it’s awesome that you have solar panels, the majority of Americans still get our electricity from power plants: plants that are dirty not only in terms of their carbon footprint, but also in terms of purchasing coal from companies practicing mountaintop removal. Passing legislation the only way to make that practice permanently illegal.

    And while it’s true that politicians often receive dirty energy money, at the end of the day, they don’t work for those companies. They work for us, their constituency. Our politicians are only as powerful as the votes they receive. They will have to prioritize the environment, if we do.

    I’m also tired of talk; but I think that’s the main point of this post. These poll numbers tell us that we KNOW that continuing down our current path is not environmentally sustainable. That said, what we need to do now is to try to change our path–on both a personal level, and a broader scale!

  2. Sherrie Good on July 10, 2012 at 1:09 pm

    I, personally, am a little tired of talk. We have climate summits that cost a fortune, add to depletion of natural resources, and yield nothing. Politicians are limited and often bound by big coal, gas and oil companies. I say, take personal action. What can you do today to limit some form of environmental damage? Can you ride a bike instead of drive? Can you buy organic food instead of genetically modified mono crops? Can you recycle more? Buy earth friendly products? Can you afford to install a solar electric system on your house? I don’t make big bucks, but I saved and planned and now have 12 panels on my roof and 16 batteries in my basement. I live 10 minutes from the white house and am off the grid! Even if you just install a small system you can designate it to run a few appliances and make a HUGE difference in your personal carbon footprint.

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