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Global warming has become the No. 1 environmental concern for Americans, according to a study released yesterday by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

According to an MIT news release:

The environment continues to rank in the middle of the list of “most important issues facing the U.S. today.” However, among 10 environmental problems, global warming (or climate change) now tops the list: Almost half the respondents put global warming in first or second place. In 2003, the destruction of ecosystems, water pollution, and toxic waste were far higher priorities.

There is also an increased sense that global warming is an established problem. In the 2006 survey, 28 percent of the respondents agreed that it is a serious problem and immediate action is necessary – up from 17 percent in 2003. All together, almost 60 percent of the 2006 respondents agreed that there’s enough evidence to warrant some level of action.

The other big change is a substantial increase in people’s willingness to spend their own money to do something about it. In 2003, people were willing to pay on average $14 more per month on their electricity bill to “solve” global warming. In 2006 they agreed to pay $21 more per month – a 50 percent increase in their willingness to pay.

Here’s a link to our coverage of the shifting perceptions of global warming.

ROB DAVIS

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