In the wake of global financial crisis, we were interested to learn that public concern in environmental issues including global warming, the loss of species and air pollution has dropped to its lowest level in two decades.
The GlobeScan poll, undertaken last summer, showed levels of public concern in 12 countries over environmental problems – which also included fresh water shortages and depletion of natural resources – were even lower than in 1992, when the first Earth summit was held in Rio. The decline has come in a period when the signs of environmental degradation have become clearer and the science stronger. Species are going extinct faster than new ones can evolve and dramatic climate change is taking place, such as the shrinking of Arctic sea ice in 2012 by 18 per cent against the previous record.
On average, globally, only 49 per cent of people said climate change was a “very serious” concern, with half saying the same for biodiversity loss and 58 per cent concerned about shortages of fresh water. The poll shows concern for most issues was rising through the ‘noughties’ and declined since around 2009, when a major UN climate summit in Copenhagen failed to reach a strong deal.
As we face further unprecedented financial challenges and political uncertainty worldwide, it is more important than ever that businesses continue to focus attentions on waste minimisation and resource efficiency. After all, environmental issues like global warming, extinction of species and air pollution are not going to stop just because business and governments are pre-occupied elsewhere.