NORC is issuing the survey summary on behalf of the ISSP, a consortium of survey research organizations in 49 countries. The ISSP coordinates studies on topics worldwide and uses the same scientific standards to make the findings representative of the nations' populations.
A focus on the environment
In the United States, only 3.6 percent of the people surveyed selected the environment as the nation's most pressing issue, as opposed to 15 percent of the people in Norway, which had the highest level of environmental concern.
The surveys also asked questions about worries concerning particular kinds of environmental problems, including global climate change. One asked which problem among nine was most important for their country as a whole as opposed to the individual.
Air pollution ranked first in 13 countries, followed by climate change, which was the top concern in 10 countries. In another question, the surveys asked people which environmental problem they considered most personally dangerous and found that in only three countries was climate change listed as the most dangerous environmental problem, trailing nuclear power plants and industrial air pollution.
"One reason for the relatively low ranking of climate change is that people often believed it did not directly affect them. Climate change is seen more as a country-level problem than as a personal problem," Smith said. "While 14.6 percent cited it as the most important environmental issue for their country, only 9 percent rated it first for themselves."
The latest surveys were completed in 2010. Similar surveys have been conducted since 1993, and little change has been noted
|Contact: Ray Boyer|
NORC at the University of Chicago