According to a new poll, 74 percent of Americans agree that climate change is impacting weather in the U.S., including 73 percent who agreed, strongly or somewhat, that climate change had exacerbated record high temperatures over the summer. The findings mean that a large majority of Americans agree with climatologists who in recent years have found increasingly strong evidence that climate change has both increased and worsened extreme weather events. In the poll the majority of Americans say climate change likely worsened a number of recent extreme weather events, including 71 percent for the current drought and last year’s unusually mild winter; 70 percent for this year’s heat wave-rocked spring; and 64 percent for the derecho, an especially fierce and long-lasting windstorm, that hit the northeast in June. “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,” explains Anthony Leiserowitz of Yale University. The Yale Project on Climate Change Communication and the George Mason University Center conducted the poll of over a thousand adults for Climate Change Communication. Along with extreme weather events, recent years have also seen a dramatic upswing in climatologists exploring the link between climate change and weather. A recent study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) found that between 1981 and 2010 the occurrence of extreme heat waves had increased by 50 to 100 times. Climate change was the only statistically logical explanation behind the incredible jump in extreme heat waves, according to the scientists. Another study found that a recent drought in Texas was made 20 times more likely due to climate change, while an incredibly warm winter in Britain was made 60 times more likely.
Photo Credit: John Vlahakis