Former Congressman Anthony Weiner’s sexting scandal sent shock waves throughout the nation. But, can American Internet users relate to Mr. Weiner’s questionable online behavior?
Although 82% of Internet users nationally say they have never sent or said anything over the Internet that they regret, a notable 18% have.
Younger Internet users are more likely than older ones to have engaged in regrettable online actions. 24% of Internet users younger than 45 years old compared with 13% of those 45 and older report this to be the case. And, men who use the Internet — 21% — are slightly more likely than female Internet users — 15% — to have sent or said something online they wish they could take back.
In general, what kind of impact does social media like Facebook have on relationships? Half of Internet users nationwide — 50% — think social media does more harm than good. About one-third — 33% — report social media does more good than harm, and 17% are unsure. Similar proportions of adults overall share these views. 51% of residents think social media does more harm than good while nearly three in ten adults — 29% — think it has a positive impact. 20% are unsure.
Japan’s nuclear crisis has raised questions about whether or not an emergency of that proportion could occur in the United States. According to this McClatchy-Marist Poll, nearly six in ten Americans — 57% — say it could happen here. Included here are 16% who think it is very likely and 41% who say a nuclear power plant emergency is likely. However, 31% believe it is not very likely, and 9% report it is not likely at all to happen. Just 2%are unsure.
“Americans certainly don’t rule out the possibility of a nuclear emergency here,” says Dr. Lee M. Miringoff, Director of The Marist College Institute for Public Opinion. “Although a majority think it is likely to be an accident at a power plant, a sizeable proportion is worried about a terror attack.”
If such a power plant emergency were to take place, is the U.S. government prepared to handle it? Americans divide. 49% report the country is either very prepared or prepared to take on such a tragedy while 48% say it is not very prepared or not prepared at all to do so. Among those who think the nation is ready to handle this type of situation are 10% who believe the government is very prepared and 39% who say it is prepared. Looking at those who are less confident, about one-third — 33% — report America is not very prepared, and 15% believe it is not prepared at all. Just 4% are unsure.
Accident Not an Attack, Say Residents
A majority of Americans — 56% — believe that if the United States were to face a nuclear crisis today, it would be a result of an accident at a nuclear power plant. However, four in ten — 40% — think an act of terrorism would be behind it. Four percent are unsure.
Are Americans concerned about a nuclear emergency in the United States? Do they think the nation is prepared to deal with such an incident, and would they view such a disaster as an accident or an act of terrorism? Find out in the latest national McClatchy-Marist Poll. To read the full article, click here.
If the youngster in your life is begging you for a cell phone this holiday season, try this one on for size. The average age Americans believe is appropriate for a child to acquire his or her first cell phone is approximately 14 years old.
Regardless of age, region, gender, or whether one has children or not, there is consensus on this question.
A plurality of U.S. adults — 43% — think 15 to 18 years old is the appropriate age for a child to begin carrying a cell phone.
68% of U.S. residents report they watch television shows in real time on their TV’s. However, 16% record programs using a DVR to watch them at a later time. 9% watch their shows online while 7% do not watch television.
There is a generation gap. Americans 45 and older — 77% — are more likely to watch TV shows in the traditional way compared with 56% of those younger than 45. By nearly a two-to-one margin, younger Americans — 22% — are more likely than are those 45 and older — 12% — to catch up with their favorite shows later thanks to a DVR. And, by a five-to-one margin, those under the age of 45 — 15% — are more likely to view TV programs online than are their older counterparts — 3%.
76% of Americans believe they do their part to help the environment. Included here are 36% who do a fair amount, 23% who do a good amount, and 17% who do a great deal. However, when thinking about how they live and the items they buy, 24% of residents nationally do very little or nothing at all to protect the environment.
Those in the Northeast, Americans who earn $50,000 or more annually, college graduates, residents 45 or older, and women are the most ecologically minded residents.
Americans Garden to Eat Healthier, Not to Help the Environment
Just 8% of U.S. residents say that if they had a fruit, vegetable, or herb garden, they would grow it to help the environment. On the contrary, a slim majority — 51% — would plant a garden to eat healthier, 24% would reap the harvest to save money, and 17% would sow seeds to have fun.
Little changes when looking at Americans who say they do, in fact, grow their own fruit, vegetables, or herbs. Among these U.S. residents, 49% grow produce to eat healthier, 24% do so to save money, and one-fifth view their garden as a hobby. Just 7% have the environment in mind when it comes to gardening.
Do most Americans pick up a shovel and hoe and, personally, plant their own fruits and vegetables? No. 52% of U.S. residents do not have their own fruit, vegetable, or herb garden while 48% do.
Midwesterners, residents earning $50,000 or more a year, college graduates, older Americans, women, and parents are more likely than their counterparts to maintain a garden.
Jim Motavalli has been writing on the environment for more than a decade. His work has appeared in the Mother Nature Network, E Magazine, and the New York Times. In this interview with The Marist Poll’s John Sparks, he talks about organic food, what people can do to preserve our environment, and the environmental efforts of the Obama administration. Listen to or read the interview below.
Jim, the Marist Poll recently conducted a national survey, and we asked the American public to think about how they live, the things they buy, specifically to help the environment. 76% told us that they do a fair amount to help the environment. Do you think that folks are really conscious and really doing that much to help out with our environment these days?
Listen to Part 1 of the Interview:
No, I think people tend to exaggerate their environment. I think their involvement. I think people tend to think that putting out their recycling bin is like being a pretty good environmental soldier.
When I read things like the BP oil spill, global warming, threats to wildlife, I confess that I sometimes feel that the battle to preserve our planet is lost. Is it too late to get involved and start trying to be more eco-friendly?
No, I mean it’s — if you were to just look at it: Is it too late to stop global warming? It definitely is. Global warming’s going to happen whether we continue to burn fossil fuels or not. If we could stop tomorrow, we’d still have a hundred years of global warming, because carbon dioxide stays in the atmosphere. But, if you’re thinking about leaving any kind of long-term legacy for the planet, the planet certainly is savable. Anything we do I think is reversible, so I don’t think … I mean a lot of things are probably irreversible, but saving human life on the planet isn’t.
Does living green have to be difficult? I’m just curious what some of the little things that people could do to help out might be.
I don’t think it has to be — being like eating everything local, for example, that’s pretty difficult. People have tried to do that, and I think you end up going through so many hoops, it’s not even worth it. You have to define what is local and all that kind of thing, and having zero environmental footprint is pretty hard. I think, but really reducing your impact, I think people can do little things that have that effect.
What advice might you have for those that would like to be more eco-friendly but just don’t where to begin?
Well, I think you should look up, and there’s a lot of websites that would help you do this. Understand where your main planetary impacts are. Like everybody has a carbon footprint, and certain things like the car you drive has a lot to do with how your carbon footprint is, and you can reduce that in a lot of not too difficult ways.
Listen to Part 2:
One of the things that we asked folks had to do with gardening and this business of organic food. First of all, 48% of our respondents said they personally have a garden where they grow their fruits and vegetables. Does that number seem inflated to you?
40% say they have a garden?
Well I’m sure that they grow some, they grow some things. Not… I don’t think 40% grow all their own vegetables. That would seem inflated. Growing some, yeah, I wouldn’t be surprised.
I wanted to ask you specifically about organic food, and the Department of Agriculture released a study. It said that last year sales of organic food were up to $21 billion. Back in 1997 it was just a little over 3.5 billion. We go to the supermarket, we encounter labels in the produce section which say “organic.” When you see that label that says “organic,” what exactly does that mean?
The organic standard is a federally recognized or federally enforced standard that you cannot use unless you’re certified organic. The word “natural” doesn’t mean anything, but the word “organic” does, actually for about ten years now, have an actual legal meaning. So, it means that it met the federal organic standards, which are pretty good. So, it does mean quite a lot.
What are some of those standards?
They’re very detailed and very technical, but it has…you’re not allowed to use pesticides, and you’re not allowed to use herbicides, and it has to be for a certain number of years you didn’t use any of those things.
One thing the organic label usually means is higher prices for those products, and I’m just curious why that is.
Well, I think it is more expensive to farm organically. It is more expensive to do organic pest control, for instance, and generally you’re talking about smaller scale operations that don’t have the economies of scale you get with big factory farms. The cost of production is a lot higher.
And no chances of prices coming down then on organic foods?
Well, prices have come down as organic food has become part of the factory food system because you have many large organic farms now that have swallowed up…I mean you can look at something like on the retail end, you’ve got Whole Foods, which has swallowed up a number of smaller chains, and you have large organic producers swallow up smaller organic producers, so the end result is larger companies which do have more economies of scale. You also have a lot of these companies now selling into supermarkets where they used to just sell into health food stores, and you have these enormous Whole Foods-type natural food supermarkets. So, there’s a lot – - the market is a lot bigger, and I think all that has resulted – - and there’s more competition, all of which has resulted in lower prices. So, prices are a lot lower than they used to be, even though it’s still a fair amount higher. You can walk into any supermarket now and buy organic milk, and it’s not that much more than regular milk.
Listen to Part 3:
The Obama administration has been pushing for legislation that would create new clean energy jobs and a more sustainable energy policy. I’m just curious your take on what passage of that kind of legislation would mean for the everyday American. We’ve got a pretty tough economy as it is right now.
A lot of it depends on what the legislation is. It’s been through many different changes. The current form of it does not include any sort of cap and trade system, and it’s quite a bit weaker than it used to be. I was for the stronger forms of those bills that did include cap and trade, so I think…there’s lots of good things in those bills, like for example, I cover the car industry quite a bit, and there’s provisions that would create something like 15 initial deployment areas for EVs in which you would get fairly major subsidies if you bought them. That’s part of that bill. There’s lots of good provisions in it, but on the whole, it’s weaker than it could be.
You’ve written quite a lot about the automobile industry, and I know you contribute to the New York Times, and you have a professional relationship with Mother Nature Network. When did you become interested in environmental issues yourself?
I’m going to have to trace that back to about 1994 when I first started writing for E/The Environmental Magazine. Before…actually before that, I had been editor of a alternative weekly paper where I did a lot of – - I did some environmental reporting anyway. As a result of that, I started getting interested in the issues, but then I got quite a bit more interested when I became editor of E Magazine, and that was like 1994.
Listen to Part 4:
I presume that Mother Nature Network, their website, might be a good place for folks to start…
Oh definitely, yeah, it’s very – - there’s a lot of stuff on there.
Any new adventures or projects that you’re involved with you’d like to share with our listeners?
I’ve started a new piece on greenwashing for America Online. I do a regular thing for AOL. I’m also the blogger for Car Talk at NPR. You know, Click and Clack, most people are familiar with them, and I have a new professional relationship with the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School, so I do some things with them. I’ve been doing as much…in addition to the car writing, I’ve been doing a lot of general interest environmental reporting on a number of different issues. Like for instance, I wrote a story for Knowledge at Wharton recently about carbon fraud. It’s amazing that even though I support the idea of cap and trade, there has been a fair amount of fraud in cap and trade operations in Europe.
Anything else you’d like to add before we call it a day?
Well, I think people are making environmental progress. It’s kind of slow and halting, but I do think we are making a good effort. I think President Obama is the most environmentally friendly president we’ve had in a very long time. He has all kinds of obstacles in getting environmental legislation through, but I think he has pointed the EPA and the Department of the Interior in the right direction. All that has made a big difference. And, I think he’s enacted some very good initiatives that don’t necessarily require Congressional approval, so I think he’s been a very positive force in environmental action.
50% of U.S. residents who have a profile on a social networking site are worried about their privacy. This includes 27% who are concerned and 23% who are very concerned. The remaining 50% aren’t too anxious. 29% are not very concerned, and 21% are not concerned at all.
The oldest Americans are the most worried. 65% of those 60 and older have some degree of concern about their privacy on a social networking site.
Women with a social networking profile are more concerned about their privacy than men. A majority of women — 57% — have some level of anxiety about the issue compared with 43% of men.
So, just how many Americans are connecting via social networking websites? 43% say they have a profile on a site like Facebook, MySpace, or LinkedIn. 57%, however, do not. There has been little change on this question, overall, since Marist last asked it in December. At that time 41% of U.S. residents said they stay in touch via social networking websites while 59% did not.
Currently, 40% of men have a profile on a social networking site. That proportion stood at 36% in December. Women, however, continue to outnumber men in this regard. 45% use these tools to keep in touch with family and friends. This proportion has not changed since December.
Has the Internet made it more or less acceptable for a person to use and claim another person’s work as his or her own?
Most Americans believe the Internet has had an impact on the way they view the practice of plagiarism. According to the latest national Marist Poll, half of residents say the technology makes it less acceptable while 35% believe it makes it more acceptable. Just 8% think the Internet has had no impact on the acceptability of plagiarism, and 7% are unsure.
There is a slight generation gap on this question. A majority of Americans under the age of 45 — 52% — think the Internet makes it less acceptable to claim another person’s work as his or her own. 48% of those 45 and older agree.
Does the Internet “dumb” Americans down? That’s the question the Marist Poll asked in its latest national survey. And, the answer is, “No,” for more than two-thirds. 68% of residents think the Internet makes us smarter while just 23% believe it has made us less intelligent. 9% are unsure.
Perhaps, one of the most interesting findings is there is no generation gap on this question. 69% of Americans younger than 45 report the Internet makes us more intelligent, and the same proportion of those 45 and older agree.
But, women have a slightly better perception of the so-called Information Superhighway than do men. 71% of women think the Internet makes us smarter while 66% of men agree.