Heavy smog and haze obscure the Toronto skyline.
Credits: QMI AGENCY/FILE PHOTO
Those aren't just the findings of an Abacus Data poll released by the Toronto Sun and QMI Agency last week.
They've been consistent going back to at least January 2007, when a poll by The Strategic Counsel for CTV News and the Globe and Mail, found the same thing, albeit by asking the questions in a different way.
In the latest poll of 1,008 adults conducted May 15-16, Abacus found 55% of Canadians worry "a great deal" about the pollution of drinking water.
This is followed by the pollution of rivers, lakes and reservoirs (51%), the contamination of soil and water by toxic waste (46%), and air pollution and smog (40%).
Bringing up the rear are the more exotic environmental issues they're constantly being told by all the usual suspects from Al Gore to Sting they SHOULD care most about, global warming, species extinction and loss of the rain forests, each at 33%.
To be sure, in every one of the seven categories surveyed, more Canadians said they were concerned "a great deal" or "a fair amount" about these issues, compared to those who said they were concerned "only a little" or "not at all."
But the fact remains despite years of political, media and environmental hysteria about global warming, Canadians care more about environmental issues they see as directly affecting their own health.
The same was true five years ago, when the Strategic Counsel found more Canadians considered toxic chemicals (61%), air pollution and smog (55%), and water pollution and quality (54%), more life threatening than global warming (52%).
Ironically, that poll, done at the height of media hysteria over global warming, was part of a massive package the Globe prepared for its Saturday, January 27, 2007 edition, kicked off by its line story "Welcome to the new climate".
It declared climate change was the biggest environmental issue of the new millennium.
Um, nope. Not even according to its own poll at the time.
It never has been for ordinary Canadians, who view climate change as one of many environmental challenges we face, but certainly not the only one or even the most important one.
As Abacus Data President David Coletto noted, critics of the oil sands (that would be everyone from David Suzuki to NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair), aren't going to win the debate if they just keep harping on climate change.
And the fact is, they shouldn't, given that the contribution of the oil sands to global greenhouse gas emissions is statistically insignificant.
It pales in comparison to, for example, the massive use of coal by China and the U.S. to produce electricity, which Canada doesn't do.
That said, Prime Minister Stephen Harper's Conservatives aren't home free in their support of the oil sands, because while most Canadians view them as an economic asset, they want them developed in a responsible way that minimizes air and water pollution.
But most Canadians simply aren't listening to the never-ending propaganda about global warming being the major crisis of our age and that the only solution is for governments to grab even more of our money to "fix" it, either directly through a carbon tax, or indirectly through cap-and-trade.
Nor are they in the minority who claim global warming is a hoax and we don't need to do anything to lower emissions.
Most of all, they want governments to act on environmental issues they see as most directly affecting them - the quality of the water we drink, the air we breathe and the soil we use to grow crops for human and animal consumption.
When you think about it logically, that's a pretty sensible view to have.