Extreme weather almost universal experience: AP-NORC survey

WASHINGTON (AP) — A majority of people in the United States say they have experienced an extreme weather event recently, a new poll shows, and most of them blame climate change..

But people across the country are turning to the planet on Saturday to recognize Earth DayPolls show that relatively few say they are motivated when talking about the issue.

New findings from this Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research The poll echoes a growing body of evidence Many individuals question their own role in combating climate change. Still, polls suggest people are paying attention.

Half of American adults say they have become more concerned about a changing climate in the past year, and increasing numbers say they are talking about it.

It feels like Adriana Moreno has been talking about climate change for years, but only recently has the 22-year-old high school teacher noticed her elderly family members bring up the issue more and more — “every time I see them,” said Moreno, a New York Democrat.

His family on the East Coast talks about how the seasons have changed, and his family in El Salvador talks about how poorly some crops are doing on their farm. After years of hearing about Moreno’s own interest in the issue, her parents have become more interested themselves.

Moreno said they didn’t believe in climate change before, but it was “out of sight, out of mind.”

Overall, 8 in 10 American adults say they have personally felt the effects of extreme weather, such as extreme heat or drought, in the past five years, according to a new poll. A majority of them – 54% of the public overall – say that their experiences have decreased as a result of climate change. They’re not wrong, said the head of the federal agency that oversees weather and climate issues.

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“It’s a fact that no matter where you are in the country, no matter where you call home, you’ve likely experienced a high-impact weather event firsthand,” National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration President Rick Spinrad said at a weather conference earlier this year. He noted that the United States has the most weather disasters costing $1 billion of any country in the world.

NOAA uses $1 billion worth of weather disasters as a measure of climate change and how it affects people. Last year there were 18 events, costing a total of more than $165 billion and killing 474 people. That includes Hurricane Ian and continued drought in the west.

These types of weather events hit the nation an average of once every 82 days in the 1980s, but now hit the nation a little more than once every two weeks, Spinrad said.

“With a changing climate, so will the hooks,” warned Spinrad. “More extreme events are expected.”

Recent extreme weather events have had at least some impact on their beliefs about climate change, the poll found, showing that three-quarters of US adults

After living in Agoura Hills, California for two and a half years, Rick Hoeft noticed extreme weather events that made him worry about climate change now more than ever. He never faced the same weather whiplash when he lived for decades in Hawaii and Michigan, where he returns this month.

“Hearing about things like fires, seeing the mountains here brown and not having rain for three, four, five months in a row … I didn’t think about it anywhere else, because I never thought about it. was in a very severe drought,” said the 65-year-old Republican retiree. Then, “when it finally rains, it’s intense.”

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“It’s not normal,” his girlfriend of 45 years, who has lived in California, tells him.

Heavy rains like the series of winter storms that flooded CaliforniaAnd major droughts occur more frequently and with greater intensity Due to climate change, studies show. Cyclone moves further eastward And the supercells that produce them are expected to become more frequent and move further east The world is warming. Wildfires have been devastating for years, exacerbated by warming.

Half of American adults say they have talked to friends and family about climate change in the past year, compared to 4 in 10 who said the same last June.

However, many say they rarely or never talk about the issue. John Laubaker, a 36-year-old truck driver from Lockport, New York, says climate is an important issue for him personally. But he doesn’t talk much about it.

Lovebaker, a moderate Republican, sees the climate conversation, as on other issues, dominated by extreme views on both sides of the aisle.

The poll found that people don’t tend to talk about climate change with people they strongly disagree with. Of those who talk to family and friends, half say they mostly agree with the person they talk to, and most of the rest say they agree and disagree equally.

A clear majority say they have learned new information in a conversation about the subject, but only 19% of American adults say their mind has changed because of a conversation about climate change.

The poll also found that some people are more optimistic or motivated when it comes to climate change; About half feel at least some. The same is true for anxiety and sadness.

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Anthony Thompson, a 74-year-old retiree and Democrat, thinks climate change has accelerated, but he picks and chooses who he talks to in “Ruby Red” Jackson, Tennessee. But when tornadoes or hailstorms tear through their area, he offers what he’s learned as “food for thought.”

For Thompson, the weather changes have become more drastic – as has his anxiety.

“I’m really worried right now because I think people are taking everything for granted, and I don’t think they should to be very honest,” she said. “If we pay attention to some of these things, we can at least slow it down.”


AP Science Writer Seth Borenstein contributed to this report.


The poll of 1,230 adults was conducted April 13-17 using a sample drawn from NORC’s probability-based AmeriSpeak panel, which is designed to be representative of the U.S. population. The margin of sampling error for all respondents is plus or minus 3.9 percentage points.

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