Sustainability Climate Change

Facing extreme weather events, most Americans point to climate change

Over 80 percent of respondents in a recent Pew Research Center survey who reported experiencing an extreme weather event said they believed climate change was to blame for it. 
A man helps two people walk through flood water after their car got stuck in St. Louis, Mo., on Thursday, July 28, 2022. The same stubborn weather system caused intense downpours in St. Louis and Appalachia that led to devastating and in some cases deadly flooding. (Allie Schallert/St. Louis Post-Dispatch via AP, File)

Story at a glance


  • A new survey from The Pew Research Center found that most Americans whose communities have suffered an extreme weather event link it to climate change.  

  • Out of the survey’s more than 10,200 respondents, 71 percent said their community had experienced one of five extreme weather events in the past year like flooding, severe storms or drought.  

  • While there was some overlap, respondents who identified as Democrats were more likely to blame climate change for the extreme weather.  

Most Americans who have been impacted by an extreme weather event in the last year see a link to climate change, according to a new Pew Research Center survey.  

Over 10,000 adults responded to the survey conducted in May.  

A little over 40 percent of respondents said their community had experienced severe weather like floods, intense storms or unusually hot weather over the past year.  


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A smaller percentage, 31 percent to be exact, said their community had suffered droughts or water shortages; 21 percent said they had experienced a wildfire; and 16 percent reported seeing eroded beaches and shorelines due to rising sea levels.  

Overall, 71 percent of respondents said their community had experienced at least one of these five forms of extreme weather this past year. And out of those respondents who had experienced extreme weather, 80 percent said they believed climate change had contributed “at least a little” to the event, according to the survey.  

How much respondents attributed such events to climate change differed along political lines.  

While majorities in both political parties blamed climate change, those who identified as Democrats were more likely to say that rising global temperatures contributed “a lot” to these events, according to the survey.  

Among respondents who said their community had experienced floods or intense storms, 95 percent of those who identified as Democrats or as Democratic-leaning independents said climate change contributed to the events at least “a little” while only 65 percent of respondents who identified as Republican or GOP leaning independents said the same. 

Meanwhile, 64 percent of Democratic respondents said climate change contributed to their community’s floods or storms “a lot” while just 24 percent of Republican respondents said the same.  

The survey’s findings align with previous reports from the Pew Research Center on political leanings and attitudes toward climate change.  

In a survey conducted last year, researchers found that 49 percent of Americans identifying as Democrats or Democrat-leaning listed addressing climate change as a top personal concern compared to only 10 percent of Republicans.  


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