In the past five years, the world has become increasingly concerned with the environment. According to a study published by Glocalities, the global percentage of people “worried about the damage that humans cause to the planet” rose from 71% in 2014 to 77% in 2019 — a 6 percent increase. Despite this increase in global environmental concern, however, the United States still lags almost 10% behind.
Only 68% of Americans show concern for human-created environmental damage. So why do Americans have more environmental apathy than the rest of the world?
Environmental concern is on the rise everywhere
Although fewer Americans care about environmental damage than the rest of the world, it’s important to note that both populations are showing an upward trend. Since 2014, about 7% more Americans show concern for the environment. This rise in concern among Americans parallels the global rise.
This is good news. Maybe now the world will focus more on its environmental footprint. And with eco-consciousness gaining traction at the global level, the world may be able to unite on this front.
Indeed, the rise in environmental concern seems to transcend typical social boundaries. The trend appears in economies both big and small, advanced and upcoming. It spans across age, gender, education levels, and political ideology. It seems to be a war not on culture but on “greed, ignorance and reckless exploitation” according to the trend report. This rise in momentum is an opportunity to unite against the damages we inflict on our environment.
U.S. politics may explain environmental apathy
Although on average American voters worry less about environmental damage than the rest of the world, American Democrats actually care more than the global average. This year, a whopping 83% of Democrats expressed environmental concern. This is 6% more than the global average.
But there’s a steep division drawn on U.S. party lines. Where 83% of Democrats demonstrate environmental concern, only roughly 58% of Republicans share the sentiment. So why does the percentage drop a whole 25%?
In short, we’re not too sure. The news we consume, our socio-economic statuses, and educations may all play a role. Another factor could be the divide between urban and rural communities — the effects of climate change are most exacerbated in cities.
But one thing is certain. Although Republicans and Democrats are strongly divided on the environment, the younger generation has shown far more concern across the political spectrum.
In fact, young Republicans have shown the highest increase in environmental concern. 67% of Republicans aged 18 to 34 said they are worried about environmental damage. That’s nearly equal to the national average. It very well may be that age is as large of a factor as politics in determining eco-consciousness.
So with environmental concern among America’s youth on the rise, the U.S. may soon catch up with the rest of the world. When it does, it will have a lot of work to do.