Kevin Coyle is a leader in researching the barriers to intelligent discussion of environmental policy and politics. He is worried about the results of the 2002 Green Gauge study published by Roper ASW, (March 2003). He is concerned that the results indicate new challenges for society. Kevin reports that the for the first time in several years there is a decrease in interest (6%) in environmental issues.
Ironically, amid the war and concerns for America's security and economic future the report finds that fewer people are saving electricity, recycling or reading labels on pesticides to ensure protection from environmental risks.
After 20 years of environmental education, community outreach, the "professionalization of environmental activism", years of movies, new cable stations focused on environmental issues, media attention and Capt. Planet; a majority of Americans report that they know little or nothing about environmental issues and problems.
Do they really know nothing? or has industry and environmental messages created by "professionalizing" staff complicated the environmental debate to the point that most American's feel they don't know what they hell everyone is debating? It seems clear that they support clean water, breathable air and saving green space. However, those messages bore the current leadership (academics, policy staff, media, funders) and they push debates beyond the reach of the "casual connectors" to environmental concern. As more Americans "tune in" to environmental debate they continue to hear about fleet limits, parts per billion and the details that industry loves to debate. They hear that "scientific community is confused"-- blah blah
Our spokespeople are disconnected from the public. The public can't relate to people that get paid to be environmental advocates. Messengers and message continue to drift away from the realities that impact peoples daily lives. We need to give the local hellraisers more voice. The local rancher watching grasslands dryup because industry is mining coal 2 miles away. People that must stay indoors in major cities because of the air pollution. Fisherman that can no longer fish. Etc.
The full 2002 Green Gauge Report. It is available for a fee through Roper ASW.