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African Americans concern about the environment equal to or greater that of whites

ANN ARBOR, Mich. --- Contrary to commonly held assumptions, African Americans are as concerned as white Americans and in some cases more so about environmental issues.

Paul Mohai, associate professor at the University of Michigan's School of Natural Resources and Environment, is the author of a new study, the first comprehensive examination to date of the environmental concerns, priorities and actions of African Americans. The study, entitled "Dispelling Old Myths: African American Concern for the Environment," will be published as the cover story of the June 2003 issue of Environment magazine.

"The conventional wisdom is that, due to greater concerns about jobs, crime, education and other 'survival' issues, African Americans are unconcerned about the environment," says Mohai. "This study provides clear evidence that conventional wisdom is wrong."

The study draws on national data sets as well as data from the Detroit Metropolitan Area. These include three decades of data from the National Opinion Research Center, U-M Detroit Area Studies from 1990 and 2002, two decades of data from the League of Conservation Voters, and the People of Color Environmental Groups Directory. The study examines not just the environmental attitudes of African Americans but also lifestyle choices, political actions, environmental group memberships, and the environmental voting records of African American legislators.

Among the key findings:

-- African Americans are more likely than white Americans to make lifestyle choices that help protect the environment in the categories of buying pesticide-free foods (37 percent of African Americans versus 29 percent of whites), consuming less meat (15 percent of African Americans versus 8 percent of whites), and driving less (16 percent of African Americans versus 10 percent of whites). However, African Americans are less likely than whites to recycle (44 percent of African Americans versus 64 percent of
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Contact: Lara Magouirk
laram@umich.edu
734-615-0270
University of Michigan
29-May-2003


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