A woman walks toward a well through clouds of dust raised by cattle in the wadi outside Louri village in the Mao region of Chad. For generations, the people of this bone-dry region lived off their herds, but climate change has meant that the normally once-a-decade droughts are now coming every few years. Photo: Rebecca Blackwell / The Associated Press / Postmedia News

By William Marsden
3 May 2013

WASHINGTON (Postmedia News) – A year of strange and often devastating weather that included extreme hurricanes, drought and wildfires appears to have increased the number of Americans who want government action on climate change, a new study shows.

Unfortunately, researchers say, this higher level of global-warming awareness is not translating into political action.

“Mother Nature has been pretty busy teaching Americans and Canadians and people from round the world about climate change through extreme weather over the past couple of years,” said Prof. Ed Maibach, one of the authors of the survey. “Since 2011 we see a fairly strong increase in belief that climate change is real and human caused and people are worried about it.”

The survey shows that 58 per cent of Americans believe “global warming is affecting weather in the United States” and 85 per cent of Americans claimed they experienced extreme weather during the last year.

These findings contrast sharply with surveys done during the recession years of 2008 and 2009 that showed most Americans didn’t consider climate change important or didn’t believe in it.

The survey on extreme weather events is part of a series of reports researchers at George Mason University’s Center for Climate Change Communication and Yale University are making public this spring.

An earlier survey released last month shows that concern about climate change is increasing even within political groups that traditionally have been the most skeptical.

A sampling of 938 Republicans or Republican-leaning independents shows they are changing their views as a result of the extreme weather.

The survey found that 52 per cent of respondents believe that the climate is changing and 62 per cent believe that the United States should take action to respond to climate change.

The survey shows that some Republicans want action on climate change even though they do not believe it’s a scientific fact.

“They still think the prudent thing to do is to go ahead and respond,” he said. “It’s risk management.”

Maibach said the survey shows a “trend where American Republicans are showing greater concern about climate change.”

Republican Party leaders, however, remain largely in denial and “are not in step with their base,” he said. [more]

Extreme weather is making Americans climate-change believers, study finds



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