For the first time since Gallup started asking the question in 1984, more Americans value economic growth over environmental protection than vice versa. They are also essentially equally split on the question of “whether they favor protection of the environment at the risk of limiting energy supplies, or favor the development of U.S. energy supplies at the risk of harming the environment” (and that’s despite the drop in the oil price from last year’s highs). What’s perhaps most interesting is that while Democrats continue to favor the environment over the economy, the margin is just 50-44. This suggests to me that the “green jobs” attempt at fusionism between leftists interested in the environment first and those interested in jobs first isn’t working — if the jobs-first Democrats believed the hype, they wouldn’t regard environmental protection as incompatible with economic growth, and would answer in favor of the environment.
Gallup’s own conclusion should make grim reading in the environmental movement’s swank headquarters:
There is little question that the current economic crisis poses a significant challenge for the environmental movement in this country. Previous Gallup research has shown that concern about global warming has diminished this year, and the research reviewed here shows clearly that Americans are more willing than ever to forgo protection of the environment if needed in order to ensure economic growth or the production of energy. With the economy as bad as it has been in recent memory, Americans’ preferences have swung even more strongly in the direction of the economy over the environment.
Two questions emerge: First, will this shift in opinion lead to a reduction in funding for these people, or will they make it up with increased donations from the philanthropic funds begun by oil barons?
And secondly, will this affect President Obama, whose own Energy secretary is recklessly suggesting a trade war with China over emissions? Time will tell.