Could Hotter Temperatures Be Influencing Belief in Climate Change?
July 18, 2012
The summer streak of hot weather in the U.S. could be the influencing factor in people’s changing opinions toward climate change, reported Bloomberg News after an interview about new UT Energy Poll data with poll director Sheril Kirshenbaum. Kirshenbaum compared the new July poll data regarding American’s attitudes toward climate change with similar data from recent UT Energy Polls. Here are some excerpts that highlight some of the findings and attempt to explain the shift in sentiment:
A record heat wave, drought and catastrophic wildfires are accomplishing what climate scientists could not: convincing a wide swath of Americans that global temperatures are rising.
In the four months since March there has been a jump in U.S. citizens’ belief that climate change is taking place, especially among independent voters and those in southern states such as Texas, which is now in its second year of record drought, according to nationwide polls by The University of Texas at Austin.
In a poll taken July 12-16, 70 percent of respondents said they think the climate is changing, compared with 65 percent in a similar poll in March. Those saying it’s not taking place fell to 15 percent from 22 percent, according to data set to be released this week by the UT Energy Poll.
Following a winter of record snowfall in 2010, the public’s acceptance of climate change fell to a low of 52 percent, according to the National Survey of American Public Opinion on Climate Change, which was published by the Brookings Institution in Washington. After this year’s mild winter, support jumped to 65 percent, the same as that found by the UT Energy Poll in March.
Kirshenbaum took a firm stance in the debate:
While the survey didn’t ask about the causes of climate change, Sheril Kirshenbaum, the poll director, said “there is no debate” that man-made carbon emissions are warming the planet. “We need to get beyond arguing if it’s occurring and start developing policies to adapt to extreme weather events and rising sea levels,” she said in an email.