Google Search Trends: Some Environmental Issues Not Top Concern – in the U.S.

environmental issues not top concern - in US

Different parts of the world have different attitude towards the climate change, global warming, etc. Based on Google search volume index, environmental issues are not top on the list for the U.S in comparison to other parts of the world. Of the five search terms use – the environment, global warming, climate change, sustainability and BP oil spill – on a 12 month period, only ‘BP oil spill’ that has dominated the search land in the U.S. for the last 2 months.

Usually marketers use Google AdWords’ keyword and traffic estimator tools for pay-per-click ads. However, the tools can also be used to see what’s trending in the search world. I use Google because they have the largest market share. The indexes of keywords, phrases below speak volume!


Searches on “the environment”

Turns out that environmental related issues are location based issue, depending on which part of the world you live in the world. Furthermore, Google splits the location into region and city. For example for the search under ‘the environment,’ the issue is not on top of people’s mind. However, if you changed the setting to city, it draws a different data.

What the numbers on the graph mean, via Google.

The numbers on the graph reflect how many searches have been done for a particular term, relative to the total number of searches done on Google over time. They don’t represent absolute search volume numbers, because the data is normalized and presented on a scale from 0-100. Each point on the graph is divided by the highest point, or 100. When we don’t have enough data, 0 is shown. The numbers next to the search terms above the graph are summaries, or totals.

US vs. the world

Regional, African countries dominate the search volume for the environment.


However, if we change the setting to ‘city’ the search volume index changed. On a scale from 0-100, Washington DC search volume index is at 64, while New York is at 49.


Searches related to the environment that has experienced some growth are oil spill (index 100). The cities affected by the oil spill originated the most searches, from top to bottom: New Orleans, Tampa, Houston, Orlando, Atlanta, Dallas, Miami, Washington DC, Chicago, New York.


Searches on “sustainability”

US vs. the World


Searches on ‘climate change’

The world


Searches within city category


Searches on ‘global warming’

The world


Searches within city category


What environmental issues do Americans care the most


– Landfill (rising search +80%). This is a “predominantly” U.S. issue.

– Plastic water bottle.

– Recycling. (index= 100)

– Reduce, reuse, recycle (index= 79)

– Fossil fuels (index= 34)

The good news. In a 12-mo. trend, an example of an emerging trend that’s happening here: 

renewable resources example…is high on search trend with search volume index at 100.

Pay close attention to the rising searches.



No wonder we have to fight tooth and nail to get Congress to work on the Climate bill. There is a big communication gap that exists here in our backyard. So big that some members of Congress can’t even think straight about the future of this country.

If people are not searching for specific environmental related for information, we do have a problem. They don’t care much about it. There’s other issues/ priorities they have. It’s either they don’t care or not educated enough about the consequences to get out of their comfort zone and get involved. This is not my problem, your problem kind of thing. But it is “our” problem. We live in a world that is increasingly becoming interconnected with one another. The world we live in is one world. If something happened in the other parts of the world, it affected the other parts of the world.

As you can see here the closer you live in a place where it is prone to natural disasters, crisis, the higher the tendency to search for information by citizens of that country. In this country environmental issues have not penetrated deep. Something got to change. Do we want to wait until things happened and make the change? Hmm, by then it’s already too late.

So where do we go from here?

Data: Google AdWords based on a rolling 12-month period from 2009 to 2010.


Author: Dewita

Co-founder Ecotwist Labs.

4 thoughts on “Google Search Trends: Some Environmental Issues Not Top Concern – in the U.S.”

  1. There is nothing at all about this catastrophe in the mainstream news right now. I am wondering, how long BP and our government are planning to keep the American People and the World from learning the actual extent of this disaster with their unconstitutional ban on the truth?

  2. The problem with global environmental issues is that we in the west can hardly be telling other countries like China and India to clean up and curb their pollution when we have beed doing it since the industrial revolution and we still don’t have any sustainable concrete policies.Regards,John.

  3. Nice post. I learn something new and challenging on blogs I
    stumbleupon on a daily basis. It will always be interesting to read content from other
    writers and use something from their sites.

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