The Gist: Over the past several years, we’ve seen upwards of a 30% rise in those who are “Very concerned” about climate change and environmental issues. However, our data show that growing concern has not necessarily correlated with increased environmentally-conscious behavior.

Paralleling the seas that are forecasted to rise due to searing temperatures, concern for the phenomenon behind the rise has, well, risen. Perhaps due to policy changes, ongoing research, or warnings that the coasts may flood sooner than expected, more Americans are fearful.

CivicScience has been tracking U.S. consumers’ concerns over climate change and the environment since 2011. Since that time, those say they are “Very concerned” have steadily climbed each and every quarter – rising a full 30% in just the last two years alone. 

With that in mind, we would expect environmentally-conscious behavior to increase as well, right?


Although environmental concern among the general population has steadily increased, action surrounding their concerns have not followed suit – at least not yet.

Our polling data show that the amount of Americans who reycle has remained relatively steady at 49% over the past several years.

For one example, those who recycle every chance they get have remained relatively steady at 48-49%. The number of people who say they try to adjust their lifestyles to help the environment “every chance they get” has remained at 28% over the past several quarters. That’s right. Completely flat. 


It’s hard to reconcile that so many U.S. adults are expressing increased concern about climate change and the environment, yet are doing little to change their behavior as a result. In the end, perhaps people have decided that their levels of concern aren’t high enough to take on greater costs or inconveniences in their lives. Eventually, something has to give.