This report summarizes the results of the 2018 Questionnaire on Environmental Problems and the Survival of Humankind, a survey conducted annually by the Asahi Glass Foundation since 1992. As in previous years, the Asahi Glass Foundation wishes to continue communicating the current thoughts and opinions of environmental experts around the world on the state of the global environment to as many people as possible.

Thanks to the cooperation of the participants, we received 1,866 responses to the questionnaire this year. (2,152 responses in 2017) We would like to express our gratitude for the opportunity to report once again this year on an environmental survey covering most regions of the world.

This year, the average time on the Environmental Doomsday Clock was 9:47, representing the most urgent sense of crisis since the survey began. It is noteworthy that for the first time respondents in their 20s and 30s moved the clock forward further than all age groups for the first time. Influenced perhaps by numerous respondents from China, these results show an increasing and changing awareness of the environmental crisis.

As in the previous fiscal year, we will post comments from respondents in each country on the website of the Asahi Glass Foundation (http://www.af-info.or.jp/en/questionnaire/result.html). Please refer to the views and opinions of environmental experts.

At the Foundation, we sincerely hope that we can contribute to the resolution of environmental problems using this questionnaire to raising environmental interest among as many people as possible, not limited to environmental experts.

Once again, we extend our deepest gratitude to the respondents for taking the time to share their valuable opinions and experience through the survey. In closing, we appeal to readers of this report for advice on how to enhance the survey in the coming years.
The Asahi Glass Foundation
September 2018

I. Facts about the 27th Annual “Questionnaire on Environmental Problems and the Survival of Humankind”

Response periodQuestionnaires were sent out in April 2018 with a return deadline of June 2018.
Questionnaire respondent pool Environmental experts selected from members of government organizations, academic institutions, NGOs, corporations, and mass media (based on the Asahi Glass Foundation database).
Questionnaires mailed24,472
Questionnaires returned1,866
Response rate7.6%
Table 1. Breakdown of respondents by region, gender, and occupational affiliation:

*1 Unless otherwise noted, the questionnaire calculated as 100% the total number of responses received for questions where respondents were only asked to choose one item. For questions with multiple selections, the questionnaire calculated the percentages based on the number of times a valid response was given.

*2 Figures have been rounded to the first or second decimal places.

*3 Each question was calculated based on the number of responses to that question and not the number of questionnaires that were returned.

II. Summary of Questionnaire Results

1. Awareness of the Crisis Facing Human Survival —The Environmental Doomsday Clock

  • The average time on the Environmental Doomsday Clock for all the world was 9:47, an advancement of 14 minutes from last year.
  • This time shows the highest environmental risk awareness level since the survey began in 1992.
  • Overall, “Climate change” continued from last year to be the most frequently selected Environmental issues to be taken into account in determining the time on the Environmental Doomsday Clock. This was followed by “Biosphere Integrity (Biodiversity),” “Water Resources,” “Society, Economy and Environment,” “Population,” “Biochemical flows (Pollution/Contamination),” “Land-System Change (Land Use),” and ”Lifestyles (Consumption Habits).”
  • Overall, when arranging the top-ranked Environmental issues to be taken into account in descending order of severity on the Environmental Doomsday Clock, “Food,” and “Population” had the most advanced time. These were followed by “Biosphere Integrity (Biodiversity),” “Climate Change,” ”Biochemical flows (Pollution/Contamination),” “Lifestyles (Consumption Habits),” then “Water Resources,” and “Society, Economy and Environment.”
  • In comparison with 2017, the clock time of “Food,” ”Biochemical flows (Pollution/Contamination),” “Population” and “Lifestyles (Consumption Habits),” in particular has advanced significantly.

2. Shifts in the Environmental Doomsday Clock Based on Respondent Age

We analyzed the shifts in the time on the Environmental Doomsday Clock from 2011 to 2018 as marked by respondents around the world, with a particular focus on the age of the respondents.

  • Until 2015 older survey respondents tended to report more advanced times on the Environmental Doomsday Clock. This year, however, younger respondents in their 20s and 30s showed the highest level of awareness, advancing the clock the furthest.

III. Questionnaire Results

1-1. Awareness of the Crisis Facing Human Survival - The Environmental Doomsday Clock

In Table2, “Environmental issues to be taken into account” are shown. Keeping in mind the problems that the environment faces at a global level, please select the three most pressing issues for the country or the region where you reside. Then, please rank them in the order of importance. Lastly, for each item, select a time using hours and minutes between 0:10 to 12:00, to indicate the level of crisis for that issue. For the purposes of calculating results, please select your times in units of 10 minutes.

About the calculation of the time on the Environmental Doomsday Clock
The time on the Environmental Doomsday Clock will be determined by taking the weighted average of the data. The issue ranked in first place will be weighted at 50%, second place at 30%, and third place at 20%.

A-1. The Environmental Doomsday Clock

Fig.1 Concern about Human Survival Prospects
  • The average time on the Environmental Doomsday Clock for all respondents was 9:47, an advancement of 14 minutes from last years’ time of 9:33.

A-2. Shifts in the Environmental Doomsday Clock Based on Respondent Age ( 2011 - 2018)

  • Until 2015 older survey respondents tended to report more advanced times on the Environmental Doomsday Clock. This year, however, younger respondents in their 20s and 30s showed the highest level of awareness, advancing the clock the furthest.

A-2-1. Shifts in the Environmental Doomsday Clock by Generation

  • The times reported by respondents over the age of 60, (the most advanced times of all age groups), remained stable between 9:28 and 9:36, until 2016. However, the clock has moved forward since 2017, reaching 9:49 this year.
  • For respondents of the age group 40s and 50s, the Environmental Doomsday Clock advanced from 8:56 in 2011 to 9:30 one year later, but the times have remained relatively stable since then.
  • The Environmental Doomsday Clock time for respondents in their 20s and 30s has advanced from 8.34 in 2011, and since 2016, has been tied with the time from respondents in their 40s and 50s. This year, however, the younger groups have advanced the clock 28 minutes to 10:00. This result was particularly influenced by highly aware respondents in their 20s from China.
Chart4. Shefts in the Environmental Doomsday Clock by Generation

B. Environmental issues to be taken into account

B-1. Overall Analysis of the Environmental Issues to Be Taken Into Account

Graph 1-1. Overall(2018)
  • Arranging the Environmental issues to be taken into account in order of the selection rate showed that overall, ”Climate Change” continued from last year to be the most frequently selected issue, at 28%. This was followed by “Biosphere integrity(Biodiversity)” (12%), “Water resources”(11%), “Society, Economy and Environment”(10%), “Population”(9%), “Biochemical flows (Pollution/Contamination)”(8%) and “Land-System Change(Land Use) ”(7%), “Lifestyles (Consumption Habits)” (7%).
  • The top Environmental issues to be taken into account on the Environmental Doomsday Clock, in descending order of severity, are: “Food” (10:12), “Population” (10:02), “Biosphere integrity (Biodiversity)” (9:51), “Biochemical flows (Pollution/Contamination)” (9:49) and “Climate Change” (9:49). These all had more advanced times than average. followed by “Lifestyles” (9:47), “Water resources” (9:45) and “Society, Economy and Environment” (9:35).
  • Since 2016, the time for “Food” in particular, has advanced significantly from 8:59 in 2016 to 9:43 in 2017 to 10:12 in 2018.
No Category Examples of Observable Changes in the Country or the Region in which You Reside Planetary Boundaries (PB) Category by SDGs # (Sustainable Development Goals: SDGs)
1 Climate Change Global warming; CO2%, ocean acidification; climatic aberrations (droughts, torrential rains and flooding, severe storms, heavy snow, abnormal temperatures, desertification, etc.) Climate Change
Ocean Acidification
Atmospheric aerosol loading
Stratospheric ozone depletion
2 Biosphere Integrity (Biodiversity) Acceleration of species extinction rate; effects of contamination, climate change, land use Genetic diversity
Functional diversity
3 Land-System Change (Land Use) Change in the amount of forest cover remaining at the tropical, temperate and boreal biomes.
Change in the amount of cropland
Land-system change
4 Biochemical flows (Pollution/Contamination) River and ocean pollution: eutrophication caused by excessive nitrogen and phosphorus and contamination by chemical substances; atmospheric pollution: particulates suspended in the atmosphere, soot and chemical substances Chemical Polution
Nitrogen & Phosphorous Cycles
5 Water Resources Diminution of usable fresh water resources (depletion, contamination) Freshwater Use
6 Population Population growth beyond what the Earth can support; aging of the population Related with almost all the PB
7 Food Diminution of food supply from land and oceans Related with almost all the PB
8 Lifestyles (Consumption Habits) Transformation of lifestyles away from excessive consumption of resources like energy Related with almost all the PB
9 Society, Economy and Environment Establishing a Green Economy with environmental economics and accounting
Environmental awareness at the individual and societal levels, progress of environmental education; poverty, governance; the status of women
Related with almost all the PB
Planetary boundaries: Will Steffen, Katherine Richardson, Johan Rockstrom et.al. Science 13 Feb 2015 vol. 347, issue 6223

2018 Search Free Comments

Note) The written statements of the answers posted below are opinions of the individual respondents; and they don’t necessary represent the views of our Foundation.
We have included the name, country, and our identification number along with the comments, unless the respondent requested anonymity.

2018 Search Results