- Extreme cold, hurricanes, blizzards are most common events
- Extreme-weather victims express greater concern about climate change
- Climate-change attitudes steady
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- One in three U.S. adults report they have been personally affected by an extreme weather event in the past two years. Most commonly, they report experiencing extreme cold, hurricanes, or snow, ice storms or blizzards.
|(Fire or wildfire)||(4)|
|No, not affected by extreme weather||67|
|The sum of the weather events exceeds 33% because some respondents named multiple weather events.|
|Gallup, March 1-18, 2022|
The results are based on Gallup's annual Environment poll, conducted March 1-18. This marks the first time Gallup has asked Americans about their experiences with extreme weather events as part of this survey.
Residents of the South (39%) and West (35%) are significantly more likely than those living in the East (24%) and Midwest (27%) to say they have recently experienced an extreme weather event.
Southern residents are most likely to say they were affected by extreme cold (12%) or hurricanes (12%) and, to a lesser extent, tornadoes (7%).
Among Western residents, wildfires (13%), extreme heat (8%) and drought (7%) are most commonly reported.
Floods (6%) and hurricanes (6%) are the most frequent responses among Eastern residents, while Midwestern residents most often mention snow or ice storms (7%), floods (6%), or tornadoes (6%).
Extreme-Weather Victims More Concerned About Climate Change
Many scientists attribute recent extreme weather patterns to the effects of climate change or global warming. Gallup's annual Environment survey tracks a number of measures of climate-change concern and attitudes. In general, extreme-weather victims worry more about climate change and are more likely to view it as a threat than those who have not experienced extreme weather in the past two years.
For example, 63% of those who have been affected by extreme weather worry "a great deal" about global warming or climate change, compared with 33% who have not been affected.
Nearly eight in 10 extreme-weather victims, 78%, believe the effects of global warming have already begun, compared with 51% of nonvictims. Sixty-four percent of victims and 36% of nonvictims say global warming will pose a serious threat to their way of life during their lifetime.
|Not Affected by
|Worry "a great deal" about global warming||63||33||+30|
|Believe global warming effects "have already begun to happen"||78||51||+27|
|Believe seriousness of global warming "generally underestimated" in the news||59||30||+29|
|Say global warming will pose "a serious threat" to their way of life||64||36||+28|
|Say they understand global warming issue "very well"||33||23||+10|
|Say government doing "too little" to protect environment||67||48||+19|
|Prioritize environmental protection over economic growth||67||47||+20|
|Gallup, March 1-18, 2022|
To some degree, these differences in attitudes reflect that Democrats, who tend to be more likely express concern about climate change, are also more likely than Republicans to say they have been the victim of extreme weather, 45% to 20%.
However, even when respondents' partisanship is taken into account, victims of extreme weather are more likely than nonvictims to express concern about climate change. In most cases, there is a double-digit gap in climate-change attitudes between victims and nonvictims within each party group.
For example, 79% of Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents who have personally been affected by an extreme weather event worry a great deal about global warming, compared with 60% of Democrats who have not had such an experience. Republicans and Republican leaners are far less likely to be concerned about global warming, but there is a 15-percentage-point gap in concern between Republicans who have (28%) and have not (13%) experienced extreme weather.
|Not Affected by
|Worry "a great deal" about global warming||79||60||+19|
|Believe global warming effects "have already begun to happen"||89||79||+10|
|Believe seriousness of global warming "generally underestimated" in the news||77||54||+23|
|Say global warming will pose "a serious threat" to their way of life||78||64||+14|
|Say they understand global warming issue "very well"||35||19||+16|
|Say government doing "too little " to protect environment||79||69||+10|
|Prioritize environmental protection over economic growth||86||72||+14|
|Worry "a great deal" about global warming||28||13||+15|
|Believe global warming effects "have already begun to happen"||54||33||+21|
|Believe seriousness of global warming "generally underestimated" in the news||21||12||+9|
|Say global warming will pose "a serious threat" to their way of life||26||13||+13|
|Say they understand global warming issue "very well"||31||26||+5|
|Say government doing "too little" to protect environment||36||32||+4|
|Prioritize environmental protection over economic growth||32||27||+5|
|Gallup March 1-18, 2021|
Global Warming Attitudes Stable
Overall, Americans' opinions about climate change and global warming have been stable over the past six years. This year's poll finds:
43% of U.S. adults worry "a great deal" about global warming or climate change, with 22% worrying a fair amount and 35% only a little or not at all.
Six in 10 Americans believe the effects of global warming have already begun, while 12% expect them to occur within their lifetime. Sixteen percent believe future generations will be affected, while 11% believe the effects of global warming will never happen.
Americans split evenly as to whether the seriousness of global warming is generally exaggerated (38%) or generally underestimated (40%) in the news. About one in five believe the news is generally correct in its assessment.
By a nearly 2-to-1 margin, Americans cite human activities (65%), rather than natural changes in the environment (34%), as the cause of increases in the Earth's temperature over the past century.
Forty-five percent say global warming will pose a serious threat to their way of life during their lifetime, while 54% disagree that this will happen.
In the past two years, the United States has suffered through a record number of severe weather events that each caused $1 billion or more in damages -- at least 20 such incidents in both 2020 and 2021. These include wildfires in California and other Western states, a severe ice storm in Texas, and a number of powerful hurricanes. From a longer-term perspective, there have been nine or more events totaling $1 billion or more in damages each year since 2011. Between 1980 and 1999, only one year (1998) recorded as many events.
About one in three Americans now say they have personally experienced some extreme weather event in the past two years. The analysis presented here indicates that experience with extreme weather is associated with greater concern about climate change and a greater likelihood of considering the effects of climate change as both occurring and serious.
These data suggest that a continued increase in extreme weather events may lead to greater public concern about climate change.
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