Water pollution beats climate change as top enviro concern

According to a new Nielsen survey, concern about climate change/global warming among online consumers around the world took a back-seat to other environmental issues...

NEW YORK, NY, Aug. 29, 2011 -- According to a new Nielsen survey, concern about climate change/global warming among online consumers around the world took a back-seat to other environmental issues such as air and water pollution, water shortages, packaging waste and use of pesticides.

More than 25,000 Internet respondents in 51 countries participated in Nielsen's 2011 Global Online Environment & Sustainability Survey. The latest findings, which were compared to 2007 and 2009 results, show that while 69 percent of global online consumers say they are concerned about climate change/global warming (up from 66 percent in 2009, but down from 72 percent in 2007), concern for other environmental issues are taking a higher priority in the minds of consumers and are rising with greater intensity.

Three out of four global consumers rated air pollution (77%) and water pollution (75%) as top concerns, both increasing six percentage points compared to 2009. But the areas where concern is mounting fastest among 73 percent of global online consumers is worry over the use of pesticides, packaging waste and water shortages, with reported concern increasing 16, 14 and 13 percentage points, respectively.

"There are many possible reasons for declines in concern about climate change/global warming. Focus on immediate worries such as job security, local school quality, crime and economic well-being have all diminished media attention for climate stories in the past two years. In the face of other pressing concerns, a public 'caring capacity' for climate change has been tested," said Dr. Maxwell T. Boykoff, Senior Visiting Research Associate, Environmental Change Institute, University of Oxford. "Without continued attention paid to global warming/climate change in the media, such concerns may have faded from the collective public conscience."

Top environmental concerns among Asia Pacific consumers include water shortages and air pollution, while water pollution was the main concern for Latin Americans, Middle Eastern/Africans, Europeans and North Americans.

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