Water scarcity overtakes global warming as top environmental concern

Water pollution and water supply issues have overtaken global warming as a top environmental concern, according to a new report.

Data gathered by global information and measurement provider Nielsen as part of its 2011 Global Online Environment & Sustainability survey, revealed that worldwide concern for global warming had slipped in priority with global consumers from 72% in 2007 to 66% in 2009. In contrast, issues such as water and air pollution have been rated as a higher priority with three out of four global consumers rating them as top concerns at 75% and 77% respectively.

The survey, which polled more than 25,000 respondents in 51 countries throughout Asia Pacific, Europe, Latin America, the Middle East, Africa and North America between 23 March and 12 April 2011, also discovered the fastest growing worldwide concern was over water shortages at 75%, the use of pesticides% and packaging waste both at 73%, a rise of around 15% on the 2007 figures.

According to the findings, the top environmental concerns among Asia Pacific consumers included water shortages and air pollution, while water pollution was the main concern for Latin American, Middle East and Africans, Europe and North America.

In addition, American consumers showed the largest decline in concern about climate change and global warming, with just 48% of American respondents saying that they were concerned about the issue, compared to around 62% in 2007.

In contrast, 90% of Latin American and 80% of Middle Eastern and African respondents said they were concerned about the issue of global warming, compared to around 68% of European respondents.

University of Oxford's, senior visiting research associate, Dr. Maxwell T. Boykoff, said there are many possible reasons for declines in concern about climate change and global warming.

He said: "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."

Meanwhile, Nielsen's president Arturo Garcia said the change in attitude in Latin American can be attributed to the number of "distressing and impactful environmental events over the last several years.

"People are expressing clear concern about unusual weather patterns including increased rainfall, hurricanes, and floods in some parts of Latin America, and severe droughts in others."

To view the report a short application form must be completed.
Carys Matthews


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