Every year, Chapman University in California publishes a fun list called the Survey of American Fears. In 2018, the biggest fear, for all Americans, was corrupt government officials. Money was at number four, but five of the top 10 fears were environmental. This is perhaps surprising, as politicians, especially in the US, often portray the environment as an elite concern. (By way of context, being murdered by a stranger was at number 50, one above sharks.)
“We are beginning to see trends that people tend to fear what they are exposed to in the media,” says Christopher Bader, the survey leader and a professor of sociology at Chapman. Media scare stories are, to an extent, fairly egalitarian and widely consumed. Plutocrats differ from the hoi polloi in that they have the means to do something about these newsworthy worries — which might explain the vogue among the Silicon Valley elite for post-apocalyptic boltholes in faraway places such as New Zealand.