Green Is So Passe

Today, I will Worry About My Job

green washA recent poll indicates that environmental protection and sustainability, have slipped on the list of concerns that Americans are pre-occupied with today. Compared with last year’s numbers, when 56% of Americans said that environmental protection was important, the latest poll published by The Pew Research Center, shows just 41% of Americans calling it a top priority. However, education, energy, and social security rose significantly in priority as did addressing moral decline. (It has been quite an immoral year, hasn’t it?)

As we now have our 44th president in place, who has pledged to address many of these ailing factors of society, including environmental protection and energy, it seems that his job now is to help people connect the dots between an economy in shambles, volatile energy futures, and environmental protection, that allows for a more holistic approach to restructuring priorities.

This poll in many ways reminds us that when we try and protect the environment–simply as one thing, void of all its inherent connections to our every day lives–it is not a very effective tool to gauge peoples concern for it. What if we reframe environmental protection as THE energy issue of our lifetimes? What if national health care coverage was framed as part of the mess of why our businesses can’t thrive and remain competitive, while implementing fuel and energy efficiency practices?

Most of the time, we view environmental issues as distant threats–“Not imminent,” as the Times coverage of this poll suggests. But the age of the environment as a single “thing” to protect must be over. This lens is not only limited in its scope and ability to empower people to understand what the environment actually is, but it allows for people to maintain the allusion of non-imminence and a continued distraction from the severity of these interconnected problems. I wonder what the polling questions would look like, with all these dots connected.

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