Southern California environment news and trends

Latinos, Asians, care a lot about the environment: do these results surprise you?

A new LATimes/USC study had some pretty interesting findings about the environment. You can read more about the study here. What's interesting about it, of course, is that the truths it reveals should and will direct the way environment reporters like me will look at the problems and solutions we've got in southern California going forward.

Worry a great deal is the top level of concern in this poll. Fair amount is second. Some bullet points:

  • Great deal/fair amount about toxic contamination: 85% Latinos, 75% Asians, 71% whites
  • Worry a great deal about global warming: 50% of Latinos, 46% of Asians, 27% of whites
  • Worry a great deal about air pollution: 66% of Latinos, 51% of Asians, 27% of whites

I saw these numbers and sort of thought, well, duh. In the LAT explainer accompanying the poll's release they enumerate some of the reasons I came up with, too. Democrats are more likely to hold environmentalist views; Latinos and Asians are more likely (again, in polls like these) to be Democrats. The other is glaringly obvious if you drive along goods movement corridors, or stop at your local chrome plating shop and look around, or stand at a refinery's gate and look for the neighbors - they're usually not white:

An analysis of census data by researchers at four universities for the United Church of Christ showed that 1.2 million people in the greater Los Angeles area, 91% of them minorities, live less than two miles from facilities handling hazardous materials such as chrome-plating businesses and battery recycling centers.

Something I thought of that's not in the story has most to do with explaining the relatively low levels of concern among whites - the folks who are more likely to be registered Republican. Global warming skepticism - a current of thought now popular among a lot of conservatives and Republicans, Bob Inglis notably excepted - what if it's a luxury? what if it's an idea or a stance or a viewpoint that people at risk for environmental harm can't afford?

I know, I know. Where's your data? I'm neither pollster nor statistician. It's clearly an inference I'm making - not fact - based on poll results. I'd love for better data to exist on this - and I'd love for someone to do a poll that got reliably interpretable results for Black respondents. In the meantime, I won't likely remember poll data as I report - but knowing that a lot of people who listen to KPCC are interested in toxic waste, in air pollution, and in global warming, as well as water policy, that'll remind me to be interested in those things too.

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