TABLE 1 Personal Environmental Commitment in Triad Countries (percent engaging in "green" behaviors in the past year)

Countries

Avoided Environmentally Harmful Products

Active in Environment Group

Voted and/or worked for Proenvironment Candidate

United States

57

11

19

Canada

77

12

15

Japan

40

4

14

Germany (West)

81

10

18

United Kingdom

75

10

0

Netherlands

68

7

21

Denmark

65

10

18

 

Source: Gallup, 1992.

Levels and Types of Environmental Concerns

In the comprehensive, multicountry Health of the Planet survey conducted in 1992 in 22 countries, Germans (only western Germans were polled) showed, predictably, the most concern about the environment. Sixty-seven percent rated their national environmental problems as "very serious" compared with 51 percent of Americans who did so and only 42 percent of Japanese (Gallup, 1992). Perceptions of dangers at home were remarkably uniform, with air and water pollution and waste disposal topping the list. Sharper distinctions emerged in regard to global threats. Germans were much more concerned than others about global warming, ozone loss, and the rain forest, which may be due to greater activism as well as to local factors such as deforestation through acid rain (Table 1).

Expected Role of Business

Across the Triad, business is perceived to be the chief cause of environmental problems. It was named the biggest polluter in Japan, western Germany, and the United Kingdom, and was perceived to be the second largest polluter in the United States, after individual waste. When presented with a list of remedial actions, consumers also placed the onus on business: "Regulating business" or "banning product sales" came first or second everywhere in the Triad.

This unanimity strongly suggests that companies' efforts to self-regulate and publicize their achievements may be a case of too little, too late. Negative perceptions of business and the public's wish for punitive actions such as bans appear well entrenched.



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