Global warming? 46% believe recent extreme weather an effect of climate change

Sunday marked the deadliest November tornado outbreak in Illinois history, as storms ripped through much of the state killing six and injuring many more.

The storm, notable for its huge scope and unusual seasonal timing, came soon after one of the most powerful typhoons in history devastated the Philippines, displacing an estimated 4 million people. Many refuse to believe that the two catastrophic weather events are coincidental, and instead attribute the extreme weather events to global climate change.

We at Survata were curious if the public would make a similar connection, and whether they even view global climate change as a viable concern. To find out, we used our consumer survey tool to ask 1,255 Americans if they believe Typhoon Haiyan and the recent tornadoes in Illinois are the result of global climate change. We found that 46% answered “Yes,” 25% answered “No,” while 29% are unsure.

Are humans to blame?

Our results show that 52% of respondents believe that human activity is primarily responsible for global warming, while 22% do not and 26% are not sure. Respondents who believe that climate change is caused by human activity are almost three times more likely than non-believers to think it’s the cause of recent extreme weather events. See the full breakdown below:

Cause for concern

We found that 29% of respondents are “very concerned” about global climate change, compared to just 16% who are “not at all concerned.” Unsurprisingly, we found that those who are “very concerned” are eight times more likely than their “not at all concerned” counterparts to attribute recent extreme weather events to global climate change.

Our take

It’s been shown that concern about global warming increases after catastrophic weather events, so the fact that our survey coincided with the aftermath of the Illinois tornadoes and Typhoon Haiyan represents a caveat. We also expect this month’s UN climate summit to affect public opinion, as the latest scientific findings disseminate.

Want to discover what your customer base cares about? Try Survata today.

Footnotes for our fellow data geeks

  1. We interviewed 1,255 online respondents from November 18 to November 19, 2013.
  2. You can download the underlying data here.
  3. You can analyze the underlying data in Statwing.