More frequent and severe climate-related extreme weather events, such as Superstorm Sandy in the Northeast and the record-breaking drought in the Midwest, may be playing a role in the public’s increased conviction that climate change is occurring. Indeed, over half of those surveyed think that climate change is already a problem, while one in ten respondents think it will be a problem in the near future. The survey also assessed what most concerns Americans about climate change: the primary worry was extreme weather events, followed closely by human health and the economy.
The National League of Conservation Voters conducted a similar poll earlier in February, which was also released the day after the State of the Union address, but whose results were not affected by the President's February 12 address. According to the survey, a majority of Americans feel that climate change is already affecting them personally or will affect them in their lifetime. Nearly two-thirds of the public support “the President taking significant steps to address climate change now.” This sentiment follows the significant attention Obama devoted to the issue in his second Inaugural Address. “We will respond to the threat of climate change, knowing that the failure to do so would betray our children and future generations,” he said. “Some may still deny the overwhelming judgment of science, but none can avoid the devastating impact of raging fires and crippling drought and more powerful storms.” Differences in opinion do not only split along party lines, but also along racial ones. Sixty percent of Caucasians, 76 percent of Hispanics, and an overwhelming 86 percent of African-Americans agree that the President should take significant action to address climate change.