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Most Americans think climate change contributes to extreme weather events

Americans push for climate change action
CBS News Poll: Most Americans say climate change should be addressed now 06:17

Most Americans say climate change is happening and believe it contributes at least some to many extreme weather conditions seen around the world, such as melting ice in the Arctic, rising sea levels, warmer summers, droughts and forest fires.

But Americans' opinions on how much climate change contributes are marked by political differences. Most Democrats think climate change contributes a lot to each of these situations, while Republicans are more likely to say it only contributes somewhat, if at all.


Many Americans have experienced some of these weather events in recent years. Most say they have experienced unseasonable temperatures (62%), while nearly half have experienced flooding (45%) or droughts (41%). Over a quarter have experienced forest fires (29%) or a severe hurricane (27%). 

Americans who live in places where agriculture plays a role in their local economy are more likely to say they've experienced droughts and floods compared to those who don't live in those areas. Similar to the public overall, a majority of Americans who say agriculture plays a role in their local economy say climate change is a crisis or serious problem and that it needs to be addressed now.

Climate change and hurricanes

Most Americans overall say climate change contributes to severe hurricanes, including 45% who say it contributes a great deal. Those who have experienced a severe hurricane recently are more likely than those who have not to say climate change is a contributor.


The substantial damage to the Bahamas due to Hurricane Dorian recently has made some Americans — 38% — more concerned about climate change. Half of Americans who have themselves experienced a severe hurricane in recent years say they are now more concerned.


This CBS News Poll is being released as part of Covering Climate Now, a collaboration of more than 250 news outlets around the world providing in-depth coverage of the climate story.

The CBS News survey is conducted by YouGov using a nationally representative sample of 2,143 U.S. residents interviewed between September 6 and 10, 2019. This sample was weighted according to gender, age, race, and education based on the American Community Survey, conducted by the U.S. Bureau of the Census, as well as 2016 presidential vote and registration status. The margin of error is 2.2 pts.

Poll toplines

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