Story at a glance

  • U.S. adults listed water pollution as their primary environmental concern — marking a continuing trend — in an annual survey released by Gallup Monday.
  • “Although degrees of worry have shifted over time, the rank order has remained largely consistent, with water pollution outpacing all other threats,” Megan Brennan wrote for Gallup.
  • President Biden is set to host a virtual climate summit with fellow world leaders, which is slated to begin this week.

U.S adults listed water pollution as their primary environmental concern — marking a continuing trend — in an annual survey released by Gallup Monday. 

Gallup’s 2021 Environment survey found that 53 percent of U.S. adults are very worried about water pollution found in lakes and rivers, while 56 percent worry about pollutants in drinking water. Concern over water contamination surpassed five other environmental challenges listed in the survey, which included global warming, air pollution, animal species extinction and tropical rain forest loss. 

“Although degrees of worry have shifted over time, the rank order has remained largely consistent, with water pollution outpacing all other threats,” Megan Brennan wrote for Gallup.

Loss of tropical rainforests and climate change followed concerns of water pollution, with 45 percent and 43 percent, respectively. Rounding out the top environmental concerns were air pollution and animal extinction. 


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Partisan differences were evident in Gallup’s findings. The most substantial disparities lie in the issue of climate change. While 68 percent of Democrats said they were highly concerned, only 14 percent of Republicans felt the same. 

“There have been persistent and sizable gaps in degrees of worry expressed by partisans over the past two decades,” Brennan wrote. “Since 2001, on average, the percentage of Democrats highly concerned about each of the six environmental threats has been more than 20 percentage points higher than that of Republicans.”

Overall, 41 percent said the condition of the environment is “excellent or “good.” 

The International Energy Agency is projecting one of the largest annual rises in carbon emissions as countries begin to open their economies amid the ongoing pandemic, The Guardian reported.

“This is shocking and very disturbing. On the one hand, governments today are saying climate change is their priority,” Fatih Birol, the executive director of the IEA, told The Guardian. 

“But on the other hand, we are seeing the second biggest emissions rise in history. It is really disappointing,” Broil added. 

President Biden is set to host a virtual climate summit with fellow world leaders, which is slated to begin this week. 

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki told reporters that the president hopes to encourage cooperation early and “ensure close coordination with key players in the international community and at the highest levels of government.” 

“Obviously, the United States is one of the world’s largest emitters, but so are a number of countries who will be represented,” Psaki said. 


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Published on Apr 20, 2021