Extremes Driving Voter Shift on Climate

October 10, 2012

Andrew Freedman in ClimateCentral:

From dessicating drought to blistering heat, the lower 48 states have taken it on the chin so far this year when it comes to extreme weather events. In fact, as measured by the federal government’s Climate Extremes Index, the January-through-September period has been the most extreme such nine-month period on record.

The Climate Extremes Index, or CEI, is used to track the highest and lowest 10 percent of extremes in temperature, precipitation, drought, and tropical storms and hurricanes across the lower 48 states. The current index is being driven by the  massive drought that is still affecting a whopping 64.6 percent of the country as of Oct. 2, as well as record warm temperatures from the many heat waves throughout the year. The drought is forecast to persist for much of the High Plains and Western States, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

According to a report released on Tuesday by NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center (NCDC), the extremes index was more than twice the average value during the January-through-September period, marking the CEI value since such records began in 1910. The NCDC said that record warm day and overnight temperatures contributed to the record, as did the widespread dry conditions.

The CEI’s value for the January-to-September period was a record 45.2 percent, meaning that 45.2 percent of the contiguous U.S. experienced top 10 percent extreme weather conditions. That beat the old record of about 38.48 percent, set during the same period in 1934 (which was also one of the hottest years on record in the U.S.).

Studies show that global climate change is already increasing the odds of some extreme weather and climate events, particularly heat waves and precipitation extremes, including droughts and floods.

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.

“Americans have just experienced two years of record-setting extreme weather events, and are increasingly connecting extreme weather in the United States to global warming,” said Dr. Anthony Leiserowitz of Yale University, in a press release about the report.

Midwesterners showed a significant attitude shift since the last survey was conducted in March, as 66 percent of people in the region said that droughts have become more common in their area. That was a 25-point increase since March, and is not that surprising given that the drought became particularly acute in the Midwest from March onwards.

Public opinion on this issue seems to fluctuate somewhat as extreme weather events come and go. Even though certain extreme weather events, such as heat waves and heavy rainstorms, are becoming more common and severe due in part to climate change, the odds are that there will still be many more years that will be far less extreme than 2012.


20 Responses to “Extremes Driving Voter Shift on Climate”

  1. omnologos Says:

    Once upon a time it was global climate. Global as in the whole world. Climate as in 30 years of weather.

    And now it’s 3 months of what happened over 3% of the planet?

    • Martin Lack Says:

      You need to pay more attention to detail, MM (or stop posting comments you know are insane just so as to irritate people). However, at the risk of falling for such a stupid trick (if indeed you are just doing the latter), I am bound to say that it is global average temperatures that are rising, not just those in the USA. However, even just looking at the USA, the extremely unusual weather (i.e. including all kinds of things but far more hot records than cold ones broken) has lasted two years now and, over all, we are now into the 26th year in which every single month has been warmer than its respective 20th century average value… So, what’s with the “3 months and 3% of the planet” bullsh!t?

      • rayduray Says:

        Feeding the dishonest trolls only encourages them.

        Omnologos must have a pretty good understanding that he’s an odious scrap of right wing feces. But giving him rebuttal only takes his demented and superficial mind to new encouragement for cunning indecency and skullduggery.

        One of the great features that bulletin boards and comments editing software of the past was that it gave us the ability to “ignore” people who were obviously indecent, i.e. “omnologos”. Res ipsa loquitur

        Too bad Word Press does not have such a feature. The first person at Climate Crocks I would ignore is the ignoble charlatan who anonymously spreads a superficial poison of lies as “omnoloogos”. He’s anything but all-knowing. He’s better labeled “omnimendacitas”. All Lies, All the Time.

        • Martin Lack Says:

          Thanks for the advice, Ray. However, it would seem that MM has long since decided just to ignore me. Therefore, the main reason I respond to his comments is to prevent any ambivalent readers from being misled by them.

          • omnologos Says:

            Martin – you follow the advice of a caricature called ray, why do you care about any reply I might have to you?

            Especially as you never see my point. I’ll try again. Peter’s post is saying that voters don’t care about multidecadal planet-averaged temperature increases. Voters care about short-term events that happen where they live. Global warming IOW is political roadkill – anybody wanting to get reduced emissions will have to (a) convince voters their short-term geographically-limited concerns are linked to something they don’t care about; (b) reducing emissions now is good because it will bring relief at some point in the future to that same something they don’t care about; (c) somehow somewhen it’ll all positively effect what they do care about.

            Good luck with that.

            The policy problems of climate change mitigation in a democratic setting are so enormous, anybody blaming evil oil companies has to be a conspiracy theorist of the saddest kind.

          • rayduray Says:


            Your charlatanry knows no bounds. Now you use the ignorance of the disinformed public as an excuse to crush their children’s prospects?

            How dare you? How dare you be so evil?

          • Martin Lack Says:

            Thanks for the attempted justification of your position, Maurizio. I do not think I misunderstand you; I am merely addressing the thinking underlying your position. This is because it seems very clear to me that, because of your libertarian ideological prejudice, you have decided to pick a fight with science and history.

            Therefore, I am just trying to help you appreciate that the Environment is not your enemy but, unless you are kind to it, it is likely to bite you. Even though Ray thinks I am “clueless”, I think my Nature is not your enemy (but it may bite you if provoked) post on 27 June 2012 explains my position pretty damn clearly. However, for those that choose not to investigate, here is a very brief summary:

            Four hundred years ago, the Age of Enlightenment gave us many good things; but the belief that man is superior to Nature (rather than part of it) was not one of them. Today, it has bequeathed to many the belief that technology alone can solve our environmental problems. Sadly, this is a grave mistake that nearly all our politicians are making (because Marxists and Capitalists both see quantitative growth as the answer to all our problems – the only difference being their focus on production and consumption respectively.

            P.S. I think you misunderstood me because, as you may have now noticed, I am in no mood to take any advice from people like Ray.

          • omnologos Says:

            Martin – I wasn’t talking about my own take on the environment, nature or anything else. As I said I don’t think this is the place for me to vent primary opinions.

            What is your take on the poll’s results?

          • Martin Lack Says:

            My take on the poll results? I am glad to see that US citizens are at last waking up to the reality that anthropogenic climate disruption is happening.

            Click to access 20120803_DicePopSci.pdf

  2. Martin Lack Says:

    “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.”

    We can but hope, then, that Americans are not willing to allow domestic economic issues dictate that they vote for an anti-scientific climate change denial duo like Romney and Ryan…. Oh bu88er, I think we’re all screwed!

  3. […] Andrew Freedman in ClimateCentral: From dessicating drought to blistering heat, the lower 48 states have taken it on the chin so far this year when it comes to extreme weather events. In fact, as m…  […]

  4. […] Excerpt from: Extremes Driving Voter Shift on Climate « Climate Denial Crock of … […]

  5. rayduray Says:

    Re: “We can but hope, then, that Americans are not willing to allow domestic economic issues dictate….”

    I think you have way too much faith in the American political process. My favorite joke this season:

    Q: How many voters does it take to change a lightbulb?

    A: None. Voters can’t change anything.

    • Martin Lack Says:

      The joke is excellent, Ray, but the preceding comment is not: My final sentence made clear that I do not have “too much faith” in anybody (or anything).

      • rayduray Says:


        You are driving me mad with your bitchy two-headedness.

        First this: “We can but hope, then, that Americans …”

        Then this: “My final sentence made clear that I do not have ‘too much faith'”

        You are speaking in silly circularities of demented religious pabulum

        Stop it with the “hope” and “faith” crap.

        Get a grip on reality and grow up, Martin. Faith, hope and charity are for children.

        We have to deal, as adults, with subterfuge, cunning, cheating and fraud.

        I don’t know what kind of a world you live in, but here’s mine:


        Are there just as many dishonest charlatans who purport to be all about being green as those on the other side of the fence? It certainly seems so.

        You latest missive has me worried that you are pretty damn clueless about all this. Kindly do not lecture me about faith and hope in the future. Thank you.

        • Martin Lack Says:

          Do you have a problem with everyone who displays a sense of humour, Ray? Has it been another very long day for you, or did someone annoy you at work today? Either way, I would appreciate it if you could desist from taking your frustration out on me. Just whack yourself off in the shower and click on the thumbs-down icon and leave it at that, please.

          I am fed up defending my agnostic (as opposed to fundamentalist Christian position) from people like you who seem to want to insist that we must all think like you do. Furthermore, I have never tried to lecture you on anything other than your refusal to accept that 9/11 was the consequence of neo-Conservative confirmation bias and selective blindness. Presumably, this is why you keep attacking me?

          Apart from that, I really do not now what your problem is; and I am certainly not going to waste any time finding out. Like you say, I am beginning to wish I could choose to ignore specific contributors too…

          • omnologos Says:

            Martin – ‘ray’ appears the ultimate troll. He has assumed an impossibly extreme online personality, goes around swashbuckling and foul-mouthing anybody on sight, and if real would be a dream come true, as anybody debating him would win by TNC.

  6. […] 2012/10/10: PSinclair: Extremes Driving Voter Shift on Climate […]

  7. […] certain amount of this is just pure self preservation. The polling is clear. Rate this:Share this:FacebookTwitterPrintLike this:LikeBe the first to like this. Posted by […]

  8. […] covered the new polling data that suggests the climate issue is a winner. Last week, a conference in DC addressed the puzzle of […]

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