6. Impacts of Global Warming

Climate Change in the American Mind, September 2021

6.1. Seven in ten Americans think global warming is affecting weather in the United States.

Seven in ten Americans (70%) think global warming is affecting weather in the United States, including almost two in three (65%) who think global warming is affecting U.S. weather either “a lot” (43%) or “some” (22%).

As noted above, 43% of Americans think global warming is affecting weather “a lot.” The percentage of Americans who think global warming is affecting the weather “a lot” is 20 percentage points higher than when we first asked this question in April 2013.

6.2. More than six in ten Americans think global warming is affecting environmental problems in the United States.

More than six in ten Americans think global warming is affecting many environmental problems in the United States at least “a little.” This includes seven in ten or more who think global warming is affecting extreme heat (77%), wildfires (76%), droughts (75%), air pollution (74%), rising sea levels (73%), flooding (73%), hurricanes (72%), and water shortages (72%). More than six in ten think global warming is affecting reduced snowpack (69%), tornadoes (68%), agricultural pests and diseases (67%), water pollution (66%), and electricity power outages (66%).

Among these, about half of Americans think global warming is affecting wildfires (50%) and extreme heat (49%) in the United States “a lot.”

6.3. About seven in ten Americans think wildfires have increased as a result of global warming.

About seven in ten Americans either “strongly” (38%) or “somewhat” (33%) agree that wildfires have increased around the world as a result of global warming.

6.4. Four in ten Americans think allergy season has become more severe in their area.

Four in ten Americans (40%) think allergy season has become more severe in their area in the past few years, while more than half (56%) think it has stayed about the same, and very few (4%) think it has become less severe.

6.5. A majority of Americans think extreme weather poses a risk to their community.

AA majority of Americans (64%) think extreme weather poses either a “high” (20%) or “moderate” (43%) risk to their community over the next 10 years. Fewer think extreme weather poses either a “low” risk (26%) or “no” risk (5%).

6.6. A majority of Americans are worried about harm from environmental problems in their local area.

Section 6.2 of this report outlined the degree to which Americans think global warming is already affecting numerous environmental problems. This section details how worried Americans are that each of those environmental problems will harm their local area in the future. A majority of Americans are at least “a little worried” about harm to their local area from air pollution (76%), extreme heat (76%), electricity power outages (75%), water pollution (73%), droughts (68%), agricultural pests and diseases (66%), water shortages (64%), flooding (62%), tornados (58%), and wildfires (52%). Fewer are worried about rising sea levels (47%), hurricanes (47%), and reduced snowpack (46%).


Citation

Leiserowitz, A., Maibach, E., Rosenthal, S., Kotcher, J., Carman, J., Neyens, L., Marlon, J., Lacroix, K., & Goldberg, M. (2021). Climate Change in the American Mind, March 2021. Yale University and George Mason University. New Haven, CT: Yale Program on Climate Change Communication.

Funding Sources

The research was funded by the 11th Hour Project, the Energy Foundation, the MacArthur Foundation, and the Grantham Foundation.

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