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Extreme Weather and Climate Change in the American Mind

Americans increasingly believe that global warming is affecting the weather and that the weather is getting worse. This study conducted at the end of this summery by the Yale Project on Climate Change Communication and the George Mason University Center for Climate Change Communication found that a large and growing majority of Americans say “global warming is affecting weather in the United States.” Seventy-four percent of respondents to survey agreed with that statement, up 5 points since the project’s last national survey in March 2012. Asked about six recent extreme weather events in the United States, majorities say global warming made each event “worse.” Overall, Americans increasingly say weather in the U.S. has been getting worse over the past several years (61%, up 9 percentage points since March). One thing that is striking is the number of Americans who say that that extreme weather is taking a personal toll on them. One in five Americans say 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.

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