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Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research

Seven in 10 Americans say weather-related disasters are becoming more severe, and nearly half of them say this is because of climate change. 

Overall, 71% of Americans say climate change is happening, while just 12% say it is not and 17% are not sure. Among those who say climate change is happening or aren’t sure, 45% say it is caused mostly or entirely by human activities, while just 16% say it is mostly or entirely the result of natural changes in the environment. 38% think it’s an equal mix of both factors. Among those who say climate change is happening or aren’t sure, 82% say it is something the United States government should be addressing, regardless of its cause.

More than half of Americans say climate change is very or extremely important to them. At the same time, two-thirds disapprove of how President Trump is handling the issue. Democrats (79%) are more likely than independents (50%) or Republicans (27%) to say climate change is very or extremely important to them.


Americans are divided over whether or not global warming plays a significant role in the intensity of hurricanes, following a devastating hurricane season in the U.S. 78% of Democratic respondents believe that climate change has contributed to the recent increase in the severe tropical storms, an increase of 30 percentage points since 2005. However only 15% of Republicans answered that they believe it to be a cause, a 10-point decrease over the same time period. 48% of independents surveyed believe climate change plays a major role in the storms -- a gain of 34% since 2005. 49% of those polled believe in global warming as a cause of the increasing frequency of powerful storms, an increase of 36 percent since 2005, the year Hurricane Katrina struck Louisiana. Write up in the Hill.

David G. Victor, Nick Obradovich, and Dillon Amaya

This op-ed discusses how our mental capacity is limited and humans are not set up well to handle esoteric issues like climate change. Most Americans know little about the ins and outs of the issue, or the policy options relating to it. Instead, opinions derive from political party affiliation or basic ideology.

But some policy strategies may be able to address some of these inherent human-nature challenges: 

  • Investments in technology. Technology can lower the cost of reducing emissions, making change easier to accept and adopt.

  • Policies that generate tangible, immediate benefits. Efforts to control soot provide a good example as both a global warming ollutant and a noxious local air problem. Those that don't care about global warming still find it in their self-interest to protect the air.

  • Political institutions can maintain a long view- surveying climate impacts regularly. This helps place extreme storms as part of patterns that needs sustained policy attention.