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Pollution, conservation bigger worries than climate

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It looks like Al Gore is going to need every cent of the $300m war chest he's amassed for climate persuasion. Americans polled by Gallup for 'Earth Day' value "traditional", bottom-up environmental issues such as pollution and conservation as being more worrying than Global Warming. Remarkably, the level of concern about greenhouse gas emissions has barely wavered in a generation. Recklessness, or Huck Finn-style American common sense?

A third of Americans think "Global Warming" is a serious concern - a figure that's effectively unchanged since 1990, when the question was first asked. Ominously for the climate doom-mongers, it ranks 10th on a list of 12 environmental issues. OK, so what are Americans worried about?

Water pollution issues are three of the top four areas of concern, with over 80 per cent of people registering serious concern. Waste contamination comes third, and the loss of natural habitat for wildlife fifth, with 77 per cent expressing concern. Then there's rainforests (69 per cent), bio-diversity (68 per cent). Greenhouse emissions come in 10th - above urban sprawl and acid rain.

And when's the last time you ever heard anyone mention acid rain?

(If you add up the "great deal" and "fair amount" worrywarts, then Global Warming comes even lower, 11th out of 12th prompted issues).

Public concern over greenhouse gas emissions 1990-now

An Inconvenient Flatline

Maybe Americans don't trust dodgy computer models, on which the predictions of global catastrophe are based? Or maybe polar bears just aren't cute enough? Either way, it can't be for lack of "awareness", as the mass media goes on about little else.

Top down vs Bottom up

But perhaps it shouldn't be surprising that traditional issues which affect one's children and family, such as pollution and conservation, are rated as more urgent. Grassroots, bottom-up environmental groups once built their support on bringing these issues into the media - before abandoning them in recent years for the "top-down" agenda of Global Warming. As Gallup shows, the groups have moved away from reflecting the everyday environmental concerns of citizens, onto an agenda largely been driven by a handful of scientists, expensively backed by powerful quangos. Perhaps if you're an NGO, this ensures a better Darwinian option for funding survival - but is this what citizens' groups are supposed to be about?

Google Earth Day logo

"And this is what it looked like before we built our data center..." Google gets into the Gaia spirit for Earth Day

Today's climate warrior will have performed a 180 degree turn from twenty years ago: rainforests are now being felled in the rush to create biofuels, a strategy which is causing the world's poorest people to go hungry, and toxic substances banned from the home are creeping back in. The justification for each move is CO2.

No wonder Greenpeace's co-founder Patrick Moore wrote recently that "the environmental movement I helped found has lost its objectivity, morality and humanity." Moore frowns on using the term "environmental" for the Global Warming campaigners. I can see his point.

Perhaps it's time hear from "traditional" environmentalism for a change, instead of its successor, the Carbon Cult?

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