Fifty-five percent of Americans surveyed said they expect the world's natural environment to be in worse shape in 10 years than it is now, and an additional 5 percent said the environment is currently in ''poor'' or ''very poor'' shape and will not improve, according to the survey.
"We refer to this group of 60 percent of Americans as 'pessimists,'" said Jon A. Krosnick, the Frederic O. Glover Professor of Humanities and Social Sciences at Stanford. This group closely resembles the overall American public in terms of gender, race, education and whether they live in an urban, suburban or rural setting, Krosnick added. When it comes to party affiliation, 67 percent of Democrats are pessimistic compared to 48 percent of Republicans. However, even a majority of Republicans share discontent about the health of the environment and human stewardship of it, researchers found.
The Stanford survey was done in collaboration with ABC News and Time magazine. Krosnick and ABC's Gary Langer designed the survey, which was conducted by telephone March 9-14 among a random national sample of 1,002 adults. The results have a margin of error of plus or minus 3 percentage points.
A striking 86 percent of those surveyed want President Bush, Congress, American businesses and/or the American public to do ''a great deal'' or ''a lot'' to improve the health of the environment during the next year. This call to action is bipartisan, with 94 percent of Democrats and 76 percent of Republicans urging environmental improvements. The proportion of people wanting a great deal or a lot of effort did not vary according to gender, age, race, education or residence in an urban, suburban or rural place.