The NY Times is reporting that a recent poll, conducted by Knowledge Networks, reveals that the majority of Americans believe that this year’s warmer-than-usual winter, last year’s blistering summer, and a few other weather phenomenons were probably made worse because of global warming. Finally!
People’s personal experiences with erratic weather are helping to change their minds about the threat of climate change – namely that it exists and its effects are being felt now, rather than in the distant future.
A large majority of climate scientists say the climate is shifting in ways that could cause serious impacts, and they cite the human release of greenhouse gases as a principal cause. But a tiny, vocal minority of researchers contests that view, and has seemed in the last few years to be winning the battle of public opinion despite slim scientific evidence for their position.
Dr. Anthony A. Leiserowitz, one of the researchers who conducted the poll notes that past surveys, where findings of people actually believing in climate change were lower, were probably because they didn’t identify with the issue personally. They thought about global warming as something “distant in time and space — that this is an issue about polar bears or maybe Bangladesh, but not my community, not the United States, not my friends and family.”
With weather extremes happening more frequently, people are beginning to see the effects of climate change in their everyday lives and not as an issue that could happen in the future – on the other side of the world.
350.org is planning a worldwide series of rallies on May 5, under the slogan “Connect the Dots,” to draw attention to the links between climate change and extreme weather. (The group’s name is a reference to an ideal concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.)