A wealth of survey questions asked over the past quarter century provides a clear picture of how the environment as an issue emerged, rose to prominence, and matured in the public mind. An issue that engaged few Americans in the early 1960s flowered in full by the early 1970s and became a concern shared by all. Americans wanted their legislators to address environmental problems, and a swarm of legislative and regulatory initiatives and court decisions followed.
Today Americans remain committed to the goal of protecting and improving the environment, but they no longer see an urgent problem. Thus they are not inclined to take many additional steps--certainly not costly ones--to improve the environment. Many other issues top their agenda.
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