People in the United States are more sharply divided on political lines when it comes to scientific and environmental issues than in other parts of the world, according to new research.
Globally, people who see themselves on the left side of politics are more likely to be concerned about the environment than those who see themselves on the right or the center of the earth.
But in the United States, this gap is much steeper, according to an international survey by the Pew Research Center. About four out of 1
In Europe, Australia, Canada, Brazil and South Korea, the gap was much less pronounced. Of those on the right in the UK, 68% would prioritize the environment, similar to the numbers in Italy, Sweden, Poland, Spain and France. Left in the UK, 84% would prioritize environmental protection, similar to the percentage in other European countries.
The polls, released on Tuesday, were conducted earlier this year, before the coronavirus outbreak reached pandemic proportions.
Overall, there was still a clear majority supporting environmental protection in the United States, nearly two-thirds (64%) of the population, with a similar number (63%) saying the government was doing too little to addressing the climate crisis. About half of the respondents said that climate change is a very serious problem and that human activity has contributed a lot to climate change.
Only one in five people with right-wing political views said they have a lot of faith in scientists, compared to more than six in 10 people on the left in the United States.
The Pew results show that people in 20 nations around the world hold a strong estimate for scientists in general, with about eight in 10 globally saying it was worth the government investment in scientific research.
Cary Funk, director of scientific and corporate research at Pew, said: “These findings show the generally positive views that the public around the world have for scientists and their work, as well as the ideological fault lines in many places on how much to trust scientists. “
Although the questions were asked before the effects of the coronavirus became apparent, they could indicate difficulties for governments in distributing vaccines.
Respondents were asked about the preventative health benefits of childhood vaccines, such as those for measles, mumps and rubella. In Sweden, the majority (84%) said the benefits were high, but only 49% said the same in Russia. In the United States, one in 10 people said there were no preventative health benefits from such vaccines, and 37% said there was a medium or high risk of side effects.
In the UK, around six in 10 people said they believe the country’s scientific performance is above average, or the best in the world. Nearly seven out of 10 said the UK government did not take sufficient action on the climate crisis.