The Myth of the Rich Environmentalist

EcoAmerica's mission is somewhat unique among environmental organizations. It's not out to protect wilderness areas or push for anti-pollution legislation. According to their site, they "build awareness, understanding and action for climate and environmental solutions among mainstream Americans." Whew - that's quite a tall order! In my opinion, it's probably the most important environmental mission of all, because changing minds is going to have a bigger impact than changing technology.

Anyway, in 2008, they came out with a fascinating report on "mainstream American" views of global warming and other environmental issues. They found that the biggest indicator of belief in global warming is a person's political affiliation. They also look at education, age, gender and income, seen here:


We can intuit that Democrats, women, young people and educated people care more about the environment, and we'd be right. But when it comes to income, there's little correlation: 
Between the lower income groups (<$50k) and the higher income groups (>$100k) there were only 3 items with a 10-point spread. Controlled for education, there really isn’t much difference at all. There are a few things to point out here though. Generational messages referring to ancestors and children both resonate more strongly with lower income groups. Lower income groups are also more likely to have personally noticed local changes in climate, and to be worried about them for the future. 
Kinda breaks apart the myth of the latte-sipping environmentalist, or that one has to be in a comfortable position before they're willing to make sacrifices. Poor folks already are making sacrifices because of environmental degradation.