5/1/2013 11:06:57 PM

New Poll Shows Extreme Weather Events Are Changing American Beliefs on Global Warming

Extreme weather events over the past year—from Hurricane Sandy to droughts and heat waves—have shifted American opinion on global warming, with a majority now convinced that global warming is real and is happening now.

The findings come from a new survey by the Yale Project on Climate Change Communication and the George Mason University Center for Climate Change Communication. The full report may be viewed here. Among the highlights:

  • Roughly six in ten Americans (58%) now agree that "global warming is affecting weather in the United States."
  • Many Americans believe that global warming has made recent extreme weather and climatic events "more severe." Among the stats: 2012 as the warmest year on record in the United States (50%); the ongoing drought in the Midwest and the Great Plains (49%); Superstorm Sandy (46%); and Superstorm Nemo (42%).
  • Roughly two-thirds of Americans say that U.S. weather has been worse over the past several years, up 12 percentage points since Spring 2012.
  • Many Americans (51%) also say weather in their local area has been worse over the past several years.
  • Overall, 85 percent of Americans report that they experienced one or more types of extreme weather in the past year, most often citing extreme high winds (60%) and extreme heat (51%).
  • Of those Americans who experienced extreme weather events in the past year, many say they were significantly harmed. Moreover, the number who have been harmed appears to be growing (up 5 percentage points since Fall 2012 and 4 points since Spring 2012).
  • Most Americans (80%) have close friends or family members (not living with them) who experienced extreme weather events in the past year, including extreme high winds (47%), an extreme heat wave (46%), an extreme snowstorm (39%), extreme cold temperatures (39%), an extreme rainstorm (37%), or a drought (35%).
  • Over half of Americans (54%) believe it is "very" or "somewhat likely" that extreme weather will cause a natural disaster in their community in the coming year.

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