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More Americans are feeling the direct effects of climate change

You probably felt it: The number of people who say they've personally experienced direct effects from climate change jumped this summer.
More Americans are feeling the direct effects of climate change
Posted at 7:57 PM, Sep 25, 2023

As a record-setting summer comes to a close, nearly nine out of ten Americans say they're feeling the direct effects of the changing climate, according to a new Associated Press/NORC poll.

According to the poll, 87% of adults say they've gone through an extreme weather event such as severe heat, drought, hurricanes or winter storms in the last five years. Three quarters of the public had such an experience just in the last few months. 

Extreme heat was a standout event, with 74% of respondents saying in September they'd gone through it in the last five years. That figure was up from 55% of respondents just three months earlier, in April of 2023.

75% of respondents said they believed climate change played at least some role in the events they'd experienced.

Meanwhile, the proportion of people who believe climate change is happening remained roughly constant compared to earlier polling, at 74%. 

But about half of respondents said they'd become more concerned about the effects of climate change within the last year. A quarter of adults said they'd already experienced direct impacts, and about 4 in 10 said they expected to feel direct impacts within their lifetime.

SEE MORE: 4 out of 5 people have felt climate change-driven heat this year

For some, at least, the events of recent years have been a wake-up call. 

Anthony Leiserowitz, who directs the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication, said that 2016 was the first time in 15 years of surveys that people started changing their views about climate change because of their experiences with extreme weather.

"And the signal has been getting stronger and stronger year by year as these conditions continue to get worse and worse," Leiserowitz told The Associated Press.

The World Meteorological Organization says this summer was the hottest ever recorded. And whether it's extreme heat, widespread wildfire smoke, or heavy flooding, scientists say the effects of our changing climate are now and will continue to get more likely and intense.

SEE MORE: Climate Changed: What Now?

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