According to a recent Gallup poll, pollution of drinking water is America’s #1 environmental concern. The rest of the top four environmental concerns also relate to water protection - pollution of rivers, lakes, and reservoirs (#2), water and soil contamination from toxic waste (#3), and maintenance of the nation’s supply of fresh water for household needs (#4). All of these water concerns polled much higher than the other issues of air pollution, loss of tropical rain forests, extinction of species, and global warming. (Thank to Cynthia Barnett for the tip on the poll.)
The relatively low level of concern for global warming could translate into a big political problem as Congress begins work on greenhouse gas pollution policy. As expected, the polling basically shows that the public is most concerned about immediate, tangible environmental problems relating to water, and less concerned about long-term global issues such as climate change. That, in a nutshell, is why taking collective action to solve long-term problems like climate change is so difficult, despite the relative success of laws like the Clean Water Act that address immediate local water pollution problems.