A poll released by Yale University on April 18 shows that a large majority of Americans have linked this year’s unusually warm winter, last year’s sweltering summer, and other extreme weather events to global warming.
“Most people in the country are looking at everything that’s happened; it just seems to be one disaster after another after another,” said Anthony A. Leiserowitz of Yale University, one of the researchers who commissioned the new poll. “People are starting to connect the dots.”
Americans’ connection of climate change with extreme weather events is consistent with the modeling of climate scientists, who have been predicting more extreme weather patterns due to climate change for years. While no single weather event can be directly attributed to global warming, a common analogy which has been previously used on this blog, is that the climate on global warming is like a baseball player on steroids. The steroids increase the likelihood of the baseball player hitting home runs –ie, extreme weather events.
Almost three-quarters of American surveyed agreed that global warming had contributed to the unusually warm winter of 2011-2012, and a substantial majority also cited global warming as responsible for 2011’s record high summer temperatures. A smaller number but still a majority of Americans also cited global warming as responsible for the abnormally heavy U.S. snowfalls of 2010-2011, and the 2011 Mississippi River floods.
Dr. Leiserowitz said that by bringing effects home, recent events may be changing the public’s “mental model of what global warming is supposed to be.”