When it comes to climate change and its influence on the weather, there are believers and there are non-believers. But according to a new poll from the Yale Project on Climate Change Communications, three-fourths of Americans now believe that climate change is responsible for the bipolar weather.
The Yale study highlighted a few key points about their poll:
- 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.
And it’s not just three out of four Americans who believe climate change is influencing the weather. According to USA Today, the world’s largest reinsurance company Munich Re has looked at weather disasters in the past three decades to find that the cumulative losses due to weather disasters averaged $9 billion a year in the 1980s but have quadrupled to $36 billion a year in the past decade. Who do they blame? Climate change.
These recent findings and claims are significant for a variety of reasons. The Yale polls can allow environmentalists to let out a sigh of relief since the statistics are significantly better than previous findings–the March 2012 Climate Change in the American Mind report–that found that 35 percent of Americans didn’t believe in climate change and a mere 46 percent attributed global warming to human activities. As for Munich Re’s public belief in climate change, it’s refreshing to hear a major company admit to believing in the effects of global warming.
Photo by Linh Do