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Yale Poll: ‘Large And Growing Majority Of Americans’ Say ‘Global Warming Is Affecting Weather In The United States’

By Joe Romm  

"Yale Poll: ‘Large And Growing Majority Of Americans’ Say ‘Global Warming Is Affecting Weather In The United States’"

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Yet another survey finds that the public accurately understands global warming makes extreme weather events worse.

This new poll from George Mason University and Yale’s Project on Climate Change Communication matches the finding of a February Brookings poll that found Americans’ understanding of climate change was increasing with more extreme weather and warmer temperatures.

Heck, the weather has been so off the charts that even the major media have taken notice (see Every Network Gets Extreme Weather Story Right, ‘Now’s The Time We Start Limiting Manmade Greenhouse Gases’ — ABC). And the public’s understanding certainly matches the science (see “Has Global Warming Caused A Quantum Jump In Extreme Weather?” and links below).

So here is a summary by Prof. Tony Leiserowitz of the new findings from Yale’s latest national survey, Extreme Weather and Climate Change in the American Mind:

  • A large and growing majority of Americans say “global warming is affecting weather in the United States” (74%, up 5 points since our last national survey in March 2012).
  • Asked about six recent extreme weather events in the United States, including record high summer temperatures, the Midwest drought, and the unusually warm winter and spring of 2011-12, majorities say global warming made each event “worse.”
  • Americans were most likely to connect global warming to the record high temperatures in the summer of 2012 (73%).
  • Americans increasingly say weather in the U.S. has been getting worse over the past several years (61%, up 9 percentage points since March).A majority of Americans (58%) say that heat waves have become more common in their local area over the past few decades, up 5 points since March, with especially large increases in the Northeast and Midwest (+12 and +15 points, respectively).
  • More than twice as many Midwesterners say they personally experienced an extreme heat wave (83%, up 48 points since March) or drought (81%, up 55 points) in the past year.
  • One in five Americans (20%) says they suffered harm to their health, property, and/or finances from an extreme heat wave in the past year, a 6-point increase since March. In addition, 15 percent say they suffered harm from a drought in the past year, up 4 points.

For public opinion junkies, here’s the Executive Summary and a breakdown that shows a “solid majority of Americans” in every region agree “global warming is affecting whether in the United States”:

Executive Summary

  • A large and growing majority of Americans (74%, up 5 points since our last national survey in March 2012) say “global warming is affecting weather in the United States.”
  • Asked about six recent extreme weather events in the United States, majorities say global warming made each event “worse.” Americans were most likely to connect global warming to the record high temperatures in the summer of 2012 (73%).
  • Americans increasingly say weather in the U.S. has been getting worse over the past several years (61%, up 9 percentage points since March).
  • A majority of Southerners (56%) say the weather in their local area has been getting worse over the past few years. Half of Midwesterners (50%) say this as well.
  • Half of Americans recall unusual weather events in their local area over the past year (52%).
  • Six in ten Americans (61%) recall unusual weather events occurring elsewhere in the United States in the past year (other than their own local area), perhaps reflecting extensive media attention to the record-setting drought, high temperatures, and strong storms in the summer of 2012, as well as the unusually warm winter of 2011-2012.
  • Half of Americans (51%) say that droughts have become more common in their local area over the past few decades, an increase of 5 points since last spring. This national change was driven primarily by a major shift of opinions in the Midwest (66%, up 25 points since March), which was hit hardest by the summer drought.
  • A majority of Americans (58%) say that heat waves have become more common in their local area over the past few decades, up 5 points since March, with especially large increases in the Northeast and Midwest (+12 and +15, respectively).
  • More than twice as many Midwesterners say they personally experienced an extreme heat wave (83%, up 48 points since March) or drought (81%, up 55 points) in the past year.
  • Northeasterners are more likely to say they personally experienced an extreme heat wave (52%, up 10 points since March) or drought in the past year (23%, up 6 points).
  • Southerners who say they personally experienced an extreme heat wave increased to 61 percent, from 50 percent in March.
  • An increasing number of Americans in the West say they experienced either an extreme heat wave (49%, up 13 points since March) or drought (41%, up 10 points).
  • One in five Americans (20%) says they suffered harm to their health, property, and/or finances from an extreme heat wave in the past year, a 6 point increase since March. In addition, 15 percent say they suffered harm from a drought in the past year, up 4 point.

Again, that public understanding certainly matches the science:

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4 Responses to Yale Poll: ‘Large And Growing Majority Of Americans’ Say ‘Global Warming Is Affecting Weather In The United States’

  1. Joan Savage says:

    The question was well put. Many can say yes to “affecting weather,” who might reasonably balk at an all-or-nothing “causes weather.”

  2. Jack Burton says:

    The rash of extreme weather events is shaking people awake. Seriously, when it is happening outside your living room window and it is something the likes of which you have never seen in your life, and it happens all over the country, it tends to get your attention.
    We had our own extreme rain event here which surpassed anything on record by around 300-400%. Nobody alive ever saw anything even close to the rain event we had. Yes, this wakes people up. And it cam on the heels of a record rain event only a month before. But a record is just a record, when that record gets plowed under by 300%, then you have an extreme event.

  3. Joan Savage says:

    In the lulls (however brief) between extreme events, let’s continue to draw attention to other changes, such as shifts in spring budding, bird migration, warmer night temperature, more numerous insects..

  4. Daniel Ferra says:

    Japan and Germany will pay residents between 32- 52 cents per kilowatt hour, here in California they will pay us 4 cents per kilowatt hour, want to change our Feed in Tariff ? Campaign to allow Californian residents to sell electricity obtained by renewable energy for a fair pro-business market price. Will you read, sign, and share this petition ?

    http://signon.org/sign/let-california-home-owners