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Poll: 1 in 2 Americans Have Experienced Extreme Weather Events in the Past Month

Nearly 7 in 10 Americans believe extreme weather events will become more common in the near future.

An extreme heat danger sign in Death Valley, California.

New polling indicates that Americans are not only aware that the climate crisis is happening (in spite of some presidential candidates falsely describing it as “a hoax”), but that nearly half have recently experienced the effects of the crisis.

A USA Today/Ipsos poll conducted in July and published this week found that 49 percent of Americans had experienced an extreme weather event within the past month. Fifty-one percent said they had not.

The number who have experienced such a weather event may be even higher now, however, given that the poll was conducted two months ago and that August saw additional extreme weather events.

According to the poll, among those who said they recently experienced extreme weather events, 71 percent of respondents experienced extreme heat during the past month. A plurality of respondents, 49 percent, said they experienced poor air quality, while 39 percent said they lived through a severe thunderstorm.

Respondents also indicated that such events were more frequent than they were just ten years ago, with 63 percent saying extreme heat events have increased. Sixty-one percent said that, in general, the amount of unusual weather for the season has gone up during that time, while 61 percent said the same about poor air quality or air pollution.

Americans are largely in agreement that the climate crisis is real, with only 5 percent saying they don’t believe in climate change. Fifty-five percent of those polled said that the climate crisis is being caused by human activity, while 22 percent said that it’s being caused by natural patterns, contradicting what the vast majority of climate scientists say about the phenomenon.

Nearly 7 in 10 Americans (68 percent) believe that extreme weather events will become more frequent in the future, and close to two in five (39 percent) say the climate crisis is already affecting their everyday lives.

The poll’s release coincided with a United Nations (UN) World Meteorological Organization (WMO) report this week finding that this is the hottest year on record for the northern hemisphere.

According to the report, the two hottest months ever recorded in that hemisphere were extremely recent — August was the second-hottest month for the northern hemisphere, surpassed only by July.

“The northern hemisphere just had a summer of extremes — with repeated heatwaves fueling devastating wildfires, harming health, disrupting daily lives and wreaking a lasting toll on the environment,” WMO Secretary-General Petteri Taalas said.

“The dog days of summer are not just barking, they are biting,” UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said in a statement regarding the report.

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