Poll: 72% believe life on earth to end as we know it

Nearly three quarters of B.C. residents believe life on earth as we know it will end in two to three generations unless severe and immediate action is taken against global warming, results of a Vancouver Sun poll suggest.

The poll, taken Nov. 10-16 by Ipsos Reid, came as world leaders met in Nairobi to discuss climate change and what could and should be done to arrest it. The figures exceed national poll results recorded by Ipsos Reid in September, which showed 63 per cent Canadians felt the same way when asked a similarly worded question. Respondents rated themselves above average when assessing their personal environmental performance, but fewer than 10 per cent said they were doing everything possible to reduce their environmental impact..

Forty-eight per cent said they would be willing to pay more for gasoline. Of those, 46 per cent said they would pay up to 10 cents more while 23 per cent said they would pay between 50 per cent and 100 per cent more. In addition, 72 per cent agreed that individual households should have a water meter so everyone pays for the water we consume.

The poll sampled 300 B.C. residents and is considered accurate 19 times out of 20 to within plus or minus 5.6 per cent. Pollster Kyle Brand said results provide “a good snapshot” of the province on environmental action.

In particular, 72 per cent of respondents agreed they were “desperately concerned” over climate change and “drastic action” is required right now to save mankind. Braid said the heightened awareness of environmental issues may be the result of increased media coverage of the topic, particularly as Canada has faced harsh criticism at the United Nations conference for failing to meet its Kyoto targets.

Braid said 2006 marks the first time in 16 years that Canadians have put environmental concerns ahead of worries about health care, education and the economy. The last time the environment topped our national concerns was in July, 1990 – not long after scientists began sounding the warning bell on global warming. A period of recession, however, soon put an end to our green efforts, Braid said, and replaced with worries over taxes and the economy.