Polls Show Jump in US Climate Awareness

October 9, 2012

Nothing like getting slammed with a 2 x 4 to focus the mind.

As I promised, here’s new polling data shows that weather extremes are finally starting to be recognized as symptoms of climate change.  At last spring’s Heartland Institute Denia-Palooza, a high profile disinformer told me in a candid moment that one of his biggest concerns was extreme weather events, and their power to change people’s minds.

This is indeed what we are seeing – and with this recently passed historic drop in arctic ice cover, they are not going away any time soon.   Arctic expert Jennifer Francis told me in a recent Skype conversation that given the projected effects of newly open water on the jet stream,  we should, indeed, expect “very interesting” weather in coming months.

Tony Leiserowitz at the Yale Project on Climate Change Communication:

Today we are releasing the second report from our latest national survey. In Extreme Weather and Climate Change in the American Mind, we report that:

·      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.

The report includes an Executive Summary and a breakdown of results by region and can be downloaded here:

Extreme Weather and Climate Change in the American Mind

Complete bullets from the Executive summary below.

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 points.

Asked about six recent extreme weather events in the United States, majorities of Americans say global warming made the events “worse.”

Americans are most likely to connect global warming to the record high temperatures in the summer of 2012 (73%). They were the least likely to connect global warming with the derecho of June 2012 (a fast moving band of thunderstorms which traveled from Indiana to Virginia, causing massive power outages and damage). Nonetheless, a majority say global warming made those storms worse (64%).

Americans also say that global warming exacerbated several other extreme events, including drought in the Midwest and Great Plains (71%), the unusually warm winter of 2011-2012 (71%), the unusually warm spring of 2012 (70%), and record forest fires in the American West (65%).

About these ads

9 Responses to “Polls Show Jump in US Climate Awareness”


  1. Unfortunately, perceptions apparently change with the season (and even with the temperature of the room a survey respondent is sitting in). Belief in GW always rises in the Fall surveys:

    http://planetsave.com/2012/04/20/belief-in-global-warming-changed-by-room-temperature/

    http://www.reddit.com/r/humor/comments/qp2tg/apparently_15_of_people_change_their_minds_about/

  2. rayduray Says:

    The most interesting aspect of the bar chart to me is that in the Midwest, there was a drop in agreement with the premise. This after the hottest summer on record. Are they putting dumb pills in their food out there?

    ***
    Jeff Masters has a good article up about climate today. 2012 was the weird.

    See Figure 2: “NOAA’s U.S. Climate Extremes Index (CEI) for January – September shows that 2012 had the most extreme first nine months of the year on record, with 45% of the contiguous U.S. experiencing top-10% extreme weather. ”

    http://www.wunderground.com/blog/JeffMasters/comment.html?entrynum=2253

  3. kiwiiano Says:

    It’s probably not surprising that the Midwest disagrees. To agree is admit that things are probably going to get worse, a lot worse, in which case they are screwed. A bit like Jews in Nazi Germany who refused to move away even when doom was staring them in the face. “Maybe if I pretend it isn’t there, it will go away…..”


  4. “… say weather in the US has been getting worse over the PAST SEVERAL YEARS …”

    “… RECALL unusual weather events in their local area OVER THE PAST YEAR”

    why?

    http://blog.chron.com/climateabyss/2011/09/texas-drought-and-global-warming/ – Dr. J. Nielsen-Gammon:

    “Do you remember the great drought of 1925, or the drought of 1917-1918? Neither do I”

    I’m curious how many Americans “are aware” that:

    “There is conflicting evidence regarding whether global warming will produce an increase or a decrease of annual precipitation, an increase or a decrease of the variability of annual precipitation, or an increase or a decrease in the frequency or intensity of the primary cause of interannual precipitation variability. Indeed, in none of these instances does the balance of evidence point clearly in one direction or the other. It is therefore NOT POSSIBLE TO SAY at this time whether global warming will make year-long precipitation shortages more or less common, intense, or frequent, or whether the current precipitation shortage is part of what will eventually emerge as a long-term trend or is an exception to the long-term trend.”( Dr. J. Nielsen-Gammon)

    http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/Features/RisingCost/rising_cost5.php:

    „Climate change MAY NOT BE responsible for the recent skyrocketing cost of natural disasters, but it is very likely that it will impact future catastrophes.”

    http://www.ipcc-wg2.gov/SREX/images/uploads/SREX-SPMbrochure_FINAL.pdf:

    “Projected changes in climate extremes under different emissions scenarios generally do not strongly diverge in the coming two to three decades, but these signals are relatively small compared to natural climate variability over this time frame. Even the sign of projected changes in some climate extremes over this time frame is uncertain.” ?


  5. […] climate is, in fact, changing – becoming more extreme with time. Here’s an excerpt from Climate Denial Crock Of The Week: “Nothing like getting slammed with a 2 x 4 to focus the mind. As I promised, here’s new […]


  6. […] climate is, in fact, changing – becoming more extreme with time. Here’s an excerpt from Climate Denial Crock Of The Week: “Nothing like getting slammed with a 2 x 4 to focus the mind. As I promised, here’s new […]


  7. […] According to a new poll released Tuesday by the Yale Project on Climate Change Communication and the George Mason University Center for Climate Change Communication, more Americans are making connections between the recent extreme weather and longer term, manmade climate change. The survey found that 73 percent of Americans said that global warming made the record-high temperatures of the summer of 2012 worse, while 61 percent said weather in the U.S. has been getting worse over the past several years, which is up nine points since March of this year. […]

  8. daryan12 Says:

    Casing point, its “pick your final year project time” in my uni and all of my renewable related projects are over subscribed, whereas my more traditional engineering ones I can get students onto for love nor money.

    Clearly a good few of the students have concluded that they’ll be getting a job one day building the next generation of wind farms or solar power plants and want project experience on their CV’s that will reflect that commitment.


Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,664 other followers

%d bloggers like this: