Three-Fourths of Americans Now Think Climate Change Is Influencing the Weather

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So, after a year marked by record breaking heat, massive wildfires, and drought that consumed 60% of the nation, almost three quarters of Americans now recognize that climate change is driving some of that funny business.

A new poll from the Yale Project on Climate Change Communications says as much. Some of the highlights:

  • 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).

This is to be expected; we usually see an uptick in belief in global warming after wild weather and warm spells, and climate credence almost always rises in the summer. That's just how we humanfolk roll. If it's palpably hot outside, we're more apt to believe in something called global warming, we lovely and simple creatures.

But 74% is a lot. It's a lot of people who not only believe in climate change, but believe that it's currently influencing the world right now. That's partly because need connective events like hot temps or weather disasters for global warming to feel real to us; we're emotional creatures; we need climate change to punch us in the gut.

And so it has. Now maybe one of presidential candidates should start discussing what we're going to do about it.

Tags: Global Climate Change