America’s Report Card on the Environment: Second Annual Report


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This survey was conducted by The Woods Institute for the Environment at Stanford University in collaboration with ABC News and Time Magazine. The second annual installment of Stanford’s national survey on the public’s perceptions of the environment shows that Americans remain pessimistic and want a lot to be done to
improve its health. This report compares our new results to those from the first installment of this survey, done in 2006.Results


  • 52 percent of Americans expect the environment to be in worse shape in ten years than it is today, while 8 percent say that the environment is currently in poor shape and will not improve. Neither are huge differences from 2006. These 60% of Americans are identified as “pessimists” when it comes to the environment, which is the same amount as in 2006.
  • The pessimists closely resemble the entirety of the American public in respect to demographic factors such as gender, education, and where they live. White people were less likely to be pessimists than minorities. Democrats are more pessimistic than Republicans, 72% to 36%. This is a not a significant change since 2006 for Democrats, but a significant decrease for Republicans from 48%.
  • A large majority of Americans, 84% want a great deal or a lot to be done to help the environment during the next year, by President Bush, the U.S. Congress, American businesses, and/or the American public. This is not a change from 2006.
  • 92% of Democrats and 77 of Republicans want a great deal to be done to help the environment, which was not a significant change from 2006. They did not vary by race or age, but females, people with high school diplomas but no further education, and those less likely to live in rural areas wanted more to be done.


  •  As indicated by the above graph, only 7% of Americans believe that President Bush did a great deal or a lot to help the environment during the past year. 67% want him to do a great deal to help more in the next year, which was a sight increase from 2006 (73%).
  • Only 8% of Americans believe that U.S. businesses did a great deal or a lot to help the environment during the past year, 71% want them to do a great deal or a lot to help the environment during the next year. This was a slight decrease from 2006.
  • Pessimism about the health of the natural environment is strongly related to beliefs about global warming. 84% of Americans believe that global warming is occurring, which is not a significant change from 2006′s 85%. 69% of Americans are at least somewhat sure that global warming has been happening and that it will have at least somewhat serious effects if unchecked (68% in 2006). Among this group, 70% are pessimists about the environment in general. Of the people who do not see Global Warming as a threat, only 38% are pessimist.


A majority of Americans believe that Global Warming is real and that the environment is getting worse. These people are known as “pessimists.” A majority of the people who see global warming as a threat are pessimists, and most people think that the government and businesses are not doing enough to help. Overall, there was not much of a change from 2006.