Unlike climate change, the potential extinction of honey bees gets considerable attention from both sides of the aisle
President Obama is making a push to save honey bees from dying out completely. In a memorandum issued last Friday, the president ordered the federal government to draw up plans to save pollinators like honey bees, whose population in the United States has more than halved since 1947, according to White House estimates. Scientists have different theories for what’s behind “Colony Collapse Disorder”, as the phenomenon is referred to, including factors such as pesticides, pollution and climate change.
Whatever the root cause of the bee die-offs, the latest YouGov research finds that Americans find the issue very pressing, even if not everyone has heard about it yet.
In fact, the 75% who say bees dying off is a serious problem is a larger group than say the same about any of the other five prominent environmental issues included in the poll, such as climate change (66%) or fracking (46%). Deforestation also comes ahead of these other issues, and is seen as serious by roughly the same number (73%) as the falling bee population.
The bee issue is also less well-known than all of the other issues except the Keystone XL pipeline – a highly controversial issue for policymakers and environmentalists around the country – which was also the problem least likely to be seen as serious.
Why do the trees and the bees rank so highly? One explanation is that, unlike the other issues listed, bee deaths and deforestation are seen as problematic across the political spectrum.
While self-identified Republicans are less likely to see any of the issues as serious problems, the 5-point gap between Democrats and Republicans on the problem posed by bee deaths is far smaller than the gap on other issues, like offshore drilling (at 41 points, the largest gap) and climate change (39 points).
While the announcement of the taskforce on pollinators was relatively low key, President Obama has described the threat of climate change as “one of the most significant long-term challenges” facing the country. The EPA recently announced some of the most aggressive regulations on greenhouse gases in US history, and on several occasions the president has mocked those who deny or ignore the scientific case for man-made climate change.