The Coastal Post - September, 1998

Educating Children Is Best Hope For Environment

By Census Bureau

NEW YORK, NY (August 17) -- The results of a national survey of adults shows that people are concerned and somewhat knowledgeable about threats to our natural water resources but lack the time and inclination to get involved personally. An eye-opening 98 percent, however, said it is necessary to educate our children if we really intend to improve the environment. And 96 percent of parents and guardians said they would join their kids in environmental improvement activities if asked.

The survey findings serve as the basis for an innovative educational program introduced by The Nature Conservancy and Lever Brothers, makers of Surf(r) and Sunlight(r) detergents. Known as "Clean Water Works," the initiative will provide free lesson plans for grade school classes to empower youngsters to take part in environmental improvement projects, volunteer community action days at six participating preserves of The Nature Conservancy across the country and guest speaker visits to schools.

It will also help fund The Nature Conservancy's national biohydrology program that assesses the impact of hydrologic changes (effects of dams, deforestation, erosion, etc.) on water quality, aquatic species and the overall ecological health. In addition, "Clean Water Works" will help support a wide range of water conservation efforts in communities across the country, and protect endangered species.

Eye-opening Findings from National Survey

How important is protecting the environment?

40% said threats to the quality of drinking water is of greatest concern to them

33% said air pollution was most important

72% said protecting the environment is more important than economic growth

Having a cleaner environment and making more money tied for second place (25%) when respondents were asked to choose what they most desired. Only having a happy love life was ranked higher (31%). Respondents were less interested in taking a vacation (14%) or having a new car (3%).

Who can and should improve the environment?

98% said we must educate our children if we expect to improve the environment

49% said they would be willing to pay more taxes to help the environment

26% said it's the government's responsibility (not their personally) to protect the environment

67% said even a single individual's actions can have a positive impact on the environment

Why people don't get involved

32% said they would rather spend time with their family or on a hobby than an environmental activity

23% said they don't know any environmental groups to get involved with

21% said they are involved in environmental activities

96% of parents and guardians said they would be likely to pitch in on a school-sponsored project if their child asked them

What do you know about threats to water and aquatic life?

80% said they are aware that poor environmental practices are endangering as much as forty percent of our freshwater animals (true)

79% said they believe clearing land and constructing buildings has an impact on river and lakes (true)

81% said they believe pesticide runoff from crops is major threat to freshwater resources (true)

84% said they think detergents have been improved over the years to be more environmentally responsible (true)

61% believe environmental practices threaten more species of birds than aquatic animals (That's false. More aquatic species - including amphibians, fish, etc., are threatened.)

75% believe one out of every two communities would have to change their environmental practices to help preserve our threatened aquatic species. (Actually a recent study undertaken by The Nature Conservancy shows that protecting as little as 15% of the nation's small watersheds would conserve populations of all vulnerable fish and mussels and significantly benefit overall water quality.)

The results of this random sample telephone survey of 1008 adults 18 years and older was conducted by Opinion Research Corporation International of Princeton, NJ, and is projectable to the national population.

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