Earth Day has been celebrated every April 22 since 1970, a timely commemoration of the growing awareness of environmental issues that had taken place in the 1960s.  Americans’ environmental concerns and activism may have been on the rise then, but what do Americans think of environmental and energy issues today?

Check out the latest Public Opinion Study from AEI’s Political Corner, which looks at polls on the environment, energy, global warming, and nuclear power.  While putting together this study, we came across a number of interesting facts worth noting:

·       President Obama’s marks on handling environmental issues are high (according to a January 2013 CNN/Time/ORC poll, 60 percent approve and 36 percent disapprove), but his favorability on handling energy issues is much more mixed (44 percent approve, while 46 percent disapprove).

·       As my AEI colleague Andrew Rugg points out, perhaps the best way to think about global warming is that it is “a concern for many, a priority for a few.” Nearly six in ten Americans says that global warming is something that concerns them a great deal or a fair amount, according to a March 2013 Gallup survey. However, a January 2013 Pew poll finds that fewer than three in ten say that “dealing with global warming” should be a top priority for the government.

·       One of the things that most surprised us was something we couldn’t find: polls asking Americans whether they believed either Mitt Romney or Barack Obama would do a better job handling environmental issues if elected president in 2012. This sort of comparison question was asked often of McCain vs. Obama in 2000 and Bush vs. Kerry in 2004. This is potentially a sign of how environmental issues have fallen off the radar in recent years.

The full study can be found here