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Extreme weather, climate & preparedness


  • 82 percent of Americans report that they personally experienced one or more types of extreme weather or a natural disaster in the past year;
  • 35 percent of all Americans report that they were personally harmed either a great deal or a moderate amount by one or more of these extreme weather events in the past year;
  • Over the past several years, Americans say the weather in the U.S. has been getting worse – rather than better – by a margin of over 2 to 1 (52% vs. 22%);
  • A large majority of Americans believe that global warming made several high profile extreme weather events worse, including the unusually warm winter of December 2011 and January 2012 (72%), record high summer temperatures in the U.S. in 2011 (70%), the drought in Texas and Oklahoma in 2011 (69%), record snowfall in the U.S. in 2010 and 2011 (61%), the Mississippi River floods in the spring of 2011 (63%), and Hurricane Irene (59%);
  • Only 36 percent of Americans have a disaster emergency plan that all members of their family know about or an emergency supply kit in their home (37%).

The New York Times article on this report: In Poll, Many Link Weather Extremes to Climate Change.

Scientists may hesitate to link some of the weather extremes of recent years to global warming — but the public, it seems, is already there.

A poll due for release on Wednesday shows that a large majority of Americans believe that this year’s unusually warm winter, last year’s blistering summer and some other weather disasters were probably made worse by global warming. And by a 2-to-1 margin, the public says the weather has been getting worse, rather than better, in recent years.

The survey, the most detailed to date on the public response to weather extremes, comes atop other polling showing a recent uptick in concern about climate change

Extreme Weather, Climate & Preparedness in the American Mind reports results from a nationally representative survey of 1,008 American adults, aged 18 and older, fielded March 12 through March 30, 2012, using the online research panel of Knowledge Networks. The report includes measures of public observations and experiences of weather, opinions about the links between global warming and particular extreme weather events, levels of household preparedness, and use of local weather forecasts.

Download the PDF

Editorial Notes: Submitted by EB contributor K. Clark who adds: "This new poll says that a majority of Americans think recent severe weather probably is climate change related."

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