Today marks the 46th Earth Day, a celebration of our planet and the environmentally conscious practices that keep it healthy. In honor of the holiday, Pew Research Center analyst Monica Anderson looked at the American public's views on environmental issues today. Here are her top five findings:
- Overall, Americans support protecting the environment, but there are deep partisan divides on the issue: Democrats are more likely to agree that the government should do whatever it takes to protect the environment, while Republican support for such an idea has decreased.
- Many Americans want elected officials to address environmental matters, but the public gives other issues – like the economy or terrorism – greater priority: 47% of Americans ranked the environment as a top policy issue.
- Views about how involved the government should be in protecting the environment vary by political party and ideology: While 89% of Democrats say the federal government should play a major role in protecting the environment, only 58% of Republicans see a major role for the government in this area.
- Roughly four-in-ten Americans identify as environmentalists: 39% of U.S. adults say the term "environmentalist" described them very well, and millennials were less likely to view themselves as environmentalists than older generations.
- The vast majority of Americans say they recycle: close to half of Americans say they recycle (46%) while 30% say they do so most of the time and 19% report doing so occasionally. Only 4% of the public say they never recycle or reduce waste to protect the environment.