Poll: Amer­i­cans blame wild weather on global warm­ing

Lodi News-Sentinel - - Local/World - By Seth Borenstein and Emily Swan­son

WASH­ING­TON — Af­ter hur­ri­canes Har­vey, Irma and Maria blitzed the na­tion, most Amer­i­cans think weather dis­as­ters are get­ting more se­vere and see global warm­ing’s fin­ger­prints.

A new poll from the As­so­ci­ated Press-NORC Cen­ter for Pub­lic Af­fairs Re­search finds that 68 per­cent of Amer­i­cans think weather dis­as­ters seem to be wors­en­ing, com­pared to 28 per­cent who think they are stay­ing the same and only 4 per­cent who say they are less se­vere.

And 46 per­cent of those who think it’s get­ting worse blame man-made cli­mate change mostly or solely for the wild weather, while an­other 39 per­cent say it’s a com­bi­na­tion of global warm­ing and nat­u­ral vari­abil­ity.

“Just with all the hur­ri­canes that are hap­pen­ing this year ... it just seems like things are kind of mixed up,” said Kathy We­ber, a 46-year-old stay-at-home mom from Menomonie, Wis­con­sin.

When Hur­ri­cane Nate washed ashore in the Gulf Coast ear­lier this month, it was one of the first storms that Greg Thomp­son did not evac­u­ate for. Thomp­son, a re­tired pest con­trol re­searcher in New Or­leans, said “it’s pretty ir­ra­tional” that peo­ple and politi­cians can deny global warm­ing when the Gulf of Mex­ico is so much hot­ter than decades ago and storms seem so much more pow­er­ful.

“When so many things are hap­pen­ing and so many of them (storms) are in­tense and so many of them are once-in500-year lev­els and they’re all oc­cur­ring, it’s a pretty good sign global warm­ing is hav­ing an ef­fect,” Thomp­son said.

Su­san Cut­ter, who di­rects the Haz­ards and Vul­ner­a­bil­ity Re­search In­sti­tute at the Univer­sity of South Carolina, said she’s not sur­prised by the poll re­sults.

“How can you not” no­tice it, Cut­ter said. “The pub­lic sees the con­nec­tion be­cause they see it hap­pen­ing to their neigh­bors, them­selves. They see it on tele­vi­sion. And they’re not re­spond­ing to a par­tic­u­lar po­lit­i­cal con­stituency.”

Cut­ter and other ex­perts say from a sci­ence per­spec­tive, it is clear that the United States is get­ting more ex­treme weather and cli­mate change plays a role.

This year so far has seen 15 weather dis­as­ters that cost $1 bil­lion or more, tied for the most in the first nine months of the year, ac­cord­ing to the Na­tional Oceanic and At­mo­spheric Ad­min­is­tra­tion.

An anal­y­sis of 167 years of fed­eral storm data by The As­so­ci­ated Press finds that no 30-year pe­riod in his­tory has seen this many ma­jor hur­ri­canes, this many days of those storms spin­ning in the At­lantic, or this much over­all en­ergy gen­er­ated by those pow­er­ful storms.

Even though she went down to help Hur­ri­cane Har­vey vic­tims in Texas as a mis­sion­ary and mid­wife, Gwen­dolyn Posey of Ok­la­homa just doesn’t see any in­crease in ex­treme weather.

“I don’t think it’s man­made cli­mate change,” Posey said. “It’s al­ways chang­ing one way or an­other. It’s al­ways in flux.”

Posey points to a record 12year pe­riod dur­ing which no ma­jor hur­ri­cane hit the United States. Dur­ing that time pe­riod, At­lantic hur­ri­canes were still more ac­tive than nor­mal, but didn’t hit the main­land United States.

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