International survey finds fresh water pollution, scarcity drive public concern.
Valentin Pérez Hernandez, a young gardener from Mexico City, moves daily between the two water realities of the nation’s capital: though the immense city is roiled by fierce water shortages, fecal contamination, industrial pollution, and old infrastructure that too often fails, the posh Jardines del Pedregal section where he works is a green and colorful oasis supplied with unusual water abundance. Photo: Circle of Blue
A comprehensive Circle of Blue | GlobeScan international public opinion survey on attitudes about fresh water sustainability, management and conservation finds that people around the world view water issues as the planet’s top environmental problem, greater than air pollution, depletion of natural resources, loss of habitat and even climate change.
The poll, funded by the Molson Coors Brewing Company, surveyed 1,000 people in each of 15 countries, and probed 500 in each of the following countries on specific questions: Canada, China, India, Mexico, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States.
The survey was made public in Stockholm, Sweden, on 18 August 2009 during World Water Week.
The fierce impediments to clean water and sanitation, and the millions of premature deaths from water-related disease are seen as having a greater influence on quality of life and the planet than air pollution, species extinction, depletion of natural resources, loss of habitat and climate change.
More than 90 percent of those polled expressed a conviction that access to clean, fresh water is fundamental, not only for themselves but for all people. Across the globe, respondents to the survey also said education was essential to help people understand the dimensions and the urgency of the crisis.
In response to the survey data, Circle of Blue commissioned some of the world’s best photojournalists to document in pictures and words various facets of the conclusions in seven countries.
A close look at the survey results found considerable consistency, as well as significant variability, in how people view the global fresh water crisis. Among the other consequential findings:
- People around the world view water pollution as the most important facet of the fresh water crisis; shortages of fresh water are very close behind. Concern about both issues tended to be higher in developing countries than in developed nations.
- People in Mexico and India, which are growing rapidly and rely heavily on agriculture for jobs and economic development, expressed the highest level of concern about water shortages in the farm sector.
- In all seven countries, respondents consistently said that governments were the most responsible for ensuring clean water.
- The respondents said that large companies were nearly as responsible as governments for ensuring clean water; nearly eight of 10 respondents from the seven nations said that solving drinking water problems “will require significant help from companies.”
- In an expression of the results of $1 trillion dollars invested in regulations and water delivery and treatment infrastructure in the last two decades, Americans said they were less worried about safe drinking water and pollution than people in most of the other countries, though more than half still expressed concerns.
- Except for India, where 60 percent of respondents said they were “very concerned,” well under half of the respondents in the six other nations surveyed said they were not terribly worried about the “high cost” of water.
Download the complete GlobeScan/Circle of Blue Report [pdf]
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