As Election Year Unfolds, Climate Concern Rises

March 17, 2016



Americans are taking global warming more seriously than at any time in the past eight years, according to several measures in Gallup’s annual environment poll. Most emblematic is the rise in their stated concern about the issue. Sixty-four percent of U.S. adults say they are worried a “great deal” or “fair amount” about global warming, up from 55% at this time last year and the highest reading since 2008.




A confluence of factors — the economic downturn, the Climategate controversy and some well-publicized pushback against global warming science — may have dampened public concern about global warming from about 2009 to 2015. However, Americans are now expressing record- or near-record-high belief that global warming is happening, as well as concern about the issue. Several years of unseasonably warm weather — including the 2011-2012, 2012-2013 and 2015-2016 winters — has potentially contributed to this shift in attitudes. If that’s true, continuation of such weather patterns would likely do more than anything politicians and even climate-change scientists can to further raise public concern.

And look at this graph, showing changes in just the last year, particularly among independents.


This is significant in an election year, and an indicator that recent strings of severe and extreme climate related weather events are making an impression on the public mind.

February’s stunning, shocking new temperature reading is just starting to make its way into the major media.


Global temperatures smashed records for the 10th straight month in February, which was a whopping 2.18 degrees above average, according to data released Thursday by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.


The spike is “unprecedented,” said Penn State meteorologist Michael Mann. Records are typically broken by hundredths or tenths of degrees. No month has ever registered a mark that high above normal.

Mann attributed the record to a mix of global warming (roughly 50%), climate pattern El Niño (25%) and month-to-month temperature fluctuations (25%). The fingerprint of human-caused climate change isn’t just evident, it’s dominant, Mann said


An increase of a couple degrees won’t feel like a lot for the average person walking outdoors, but it makes a dramatic difference in the natural world that surrounds us. Higher temperatures confuse plants and insects—leading to early springs and disruptions in ecosystems. Ice also melts at higher rates, driving rising in sea levels and eliminating habitats. And of course that 1.2°C (2.2°F) average temperature increase in February masks far more extreme variations. “Sometimes it’s hard for humans to pick up on it,” says Sean Sublette, a meteorologist at Climate Central. “You’ll start to see nature responding to this more and more.”

The study comes as new research from the National Academy of Sciences shows that climate change contributes to extreme weather events like drought and flooding. And, while the exact links remain unclear, extremely hot months like February raise the risk that the world will be caught off guard by extreme and unexpected events.

The entire globe was hot in February, but some places were hotter than others. February ranked as the seventh warmest on record in the United States, but that didn’t stop the country from experiencing the warmest winter on record as a whole. The average U.S. winter temperature was 2.7°C (36.8°F)—that’s 2.6°C (4.6°F) above average, well past the 2°C limit. In parts of Africa, the warmest February since 1910 contributed to ongoing drought that has left millions food insecure. And some areas in the Arctic experienced temperatures up to 16°C (29°F) above average leading to dangerously low levels of sea ice.

And while the year has only just begun, climate scientists have already predicted that 2016 will trump last year as the warmest on record. The warmest months of El Niño tend to fall in the spring following the pattern’s high period and the coming months would need to be abnormally cool to make up for the hot winter. They almost certainly won’t be.

“There’s a good chance that 2016 will be even warmer that 2015,” says Mann. “We would have to see a pretty rapid cool down not to beat the 2015 record.”




9 Responses to “As Election Year Unfolds, Climate Concern Rises”

  1. Sir Charles Says:

    If the Gallup poll is reflecting the US American voters then it should be no problem to defeat this wannabe Hitler. He’s making global warming a matter of belief.

    So far to the church of climate change denial and their stupid followers.

  2. Sir Charles Says:


    The February average temperature across global land and ocean surfaces was 2.18°F (1.21°C) above the 20th century average. This was not only the highest for February in the 1880–2016 record (surpassing the previous record set in 2015 by 0.59°F / 0.33°C), but it surpassed the all-time monthly record set just two months ago in December 2015 by 0.16°F (0.09°C). February 2016 also marks the 10th consecutive month a monthly global temperature record has been broken.

    The February globally-averaged land surface temperature was 4.16°F (2.31°C) above the 20th century average. This was the highest for February in the 1880–2016 record, surpassing the previous records set in 1998 and 2015 by 1.13°F (0.63°C).

    => Hottest Winter On Record By Far Drives Devastating Weather Disasters Globally

  3. According to Trump poll, only two people in the ENTIRE WORLD believe in global warming. Everyone else? They agree with Trump, that it does not exist.


  4. skeptictmac57 Says:

    In a truly rational world, the trend in acceptance for AGW would track more closely with the trend in actual surface temperatures and other AGW related data sets such as melting glaciers and arctic sea ice, oceans temperature, rising CO2 levels etc.
    But it is obvious that most people are not paying attention to those things, and are more likely taking the word of some perceived authority, regardless of whether said authority has any scientific grounding. However, when it starts getting hotter in their own backyard, it makes it more relevant to their lives, since they can experience that first hand. It’s not scientific, but it does communicate a message that just happens to be in line with reality at the moment.

  5. grindupbaker Says:

    This indicates what I’ve been saying that correlation does not mean causation. That graph goes exactly as per GMST with the 2015/16 warming and all. It’s Americanses’ opinions that are affecting global climate like I always said.

  6. The reason for the change in opinions rest with what people actually see. The weather has been going off the charts, and while individual weather events prove very little, the accumulation of events point strongly in the direction of climate change.

  7. pendantry Says:

    Looking at that first graph, I’m interested in the spikes around 2000 and 2008.

    The millennium one could be explained by millennial hysteria (which is predictable: it’s happened before).

    If the 2008 spike was caused by the ‘credit crunch’ distracting folks from the far-away to the here-and-now, all we need is another big event, like a war maybe, to get everyone to stop worrying… :/

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