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Worldwide, people are more concerned about drought — the effects of which are illustrated here by Oklahoma's Lake Altus-Lugert — than climate change. Photo: G. O'Graffer

A recent worldwide survey shows the average citizen no longer considers global warming the planet's main environment-related concern.

Polling firm Nielsen issued the 2011 Global Online Environment & Sustainability Survey to 25,000 recipients in 51 countries. 75% of respondents rated water pollution as their No. 1 concern, 6% more than in 2009. In contrast, 69% are most worried about climate change/global warming. According to researchers, the shift indicates a need to increase educational efforts.

“In the face of other pressing concerns, a public ‘caring capacity' for climate change has been tested,” says Maxwell Boykoff, senior visiting research associate, Environmental Change Institute, University of Oxford. “Without continued attention paid to global warming/climate change in the media, such concerns may have faded from the collective public conscience.”