How did the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico affect Americans’ opinions about environmental and ocean conservation?
Fig 1. Click for full-size. In June 2010 after the oil spill, the number of Americans who agreed with the statement “Protecting the ocean should be a priority for the US government” jumped considerably from 2009 and April 2010. However, by August 2010 fewer still felt this way.
Fig 2. Click for full-size. A similar jump can be observed in people who agree with the statements “Protecting the ocean is an important part of protecting the environment.”
The interest was short-lived, however. By the time the 3rd quarter tracking data returned, interest was already declining.
his trend is mirrored in the searches conducted on the internet during these same months (Fig 3): Google Trends show related search terms such as “gulf oil spill,” “oil spill” and “Gulf of Mexico” spiked on April 20th 2010 and then declined over the next few months (reaching its peak in late April/early May). The search term frequency was down near baseline levels by October 2010.
Fig 3. Click for full-size. Google Trends.
Now, a year later, the sense of urgency has long since passed. The memory lingers, but for most Americans, it’s back to life as usual. For those living in and around the Gulf of Mexico, the consequences of this disaster have an impact on their lives daily.
In memory of this catastrophic event, we will be dedicating our blogs over the next week to the communities and ecologies that were forever transformed on April 20, 2010.