Roseville fire fighter Kirk Steven sprays down a tree as he allows fuel to be burned off next to a cabin during the Caldor fire near Meyers, Calif. on August 31. A Gallup poll released Wednesday found that one in three Americans has personally experienced an extreme weather event in the last two years. Photo by Peter DaSilva/UPI | License Photo
April 6 (UPI) -- A third of Americans have been personally impacted by an extreme weather event within the last two years, according to the results of a Gallup poll released Wednesday.
Around 12% of respondents experienced phenomena linked to winter, the poll finds -- unusual blizzards, ice storms and extremely cold temperatures. Another 6% cited hurricanes, 5% pointed to extreme heat, and 4% said they'd experienced flooding, tornadoes or wildfires.
Pollsters also found that personal experience with extreme weather plays a major role in whether a respondent was concerned about climate change. A full 63% of people who say they "worry a great deal" about climate change had dealt with unusual weather events firsthand. That demographic was also more likely to believe the effects of global warming are already being felt and that the government isn't doing enough to protect the environment.
Attitudes around the environment also fell along party lines, although exposure to an extreme weather event similarly impacted feelings around climate change in both parties.
While Democrats are generally more likely to express concern about the changing environment, personal experience with extreme weather bumped up the chance that they "worry a great deal" by 19%. Among Republicans, the effect is similar. Twenty-eight percent of those who experienced extreme weather firsthand said they "worry a great deal" about climate change," compared to 13% of Republicans who haven't -- a 15% difference.
The survey results were released on the heels of a United Nations-backed report that reiterated humanity must control its greenhouse gas emissions or remain on pace to see irreversible damage to the environment.
"Nearly half of humanity is living in the danger zone -- now," U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said.
That report, issued by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change on Feb. 28, warned that global temperatures could rise by 2.7 degrees Fahrenheit over the next two decades. That would result in extreme weather events, flooding, wildfires, and the devastation of entire ecosystems and food sources.
Wednesday's results were based on Gallup's annual Environment poll, conducted between March 1 and March 18. This year was the first time Gallup asked about personal experiences with extreme weather as part of the survey.
Interviewers conducted the survey by phone with 1,017 adults living in all 50 U.S. states and Washington, D.C.