The researchers found early on in this project, a decade ago, that for many Americans climate change was a problem distant in time and space, "a problem about polar bears and Bangladesh, but not in my state, not in my community, not for the people and places I care about," said study researcher Anthony Leiserowitz, director of the Yale Project on Climate Change Communication, referring to the public.
"What's interesting about these results is that it suggests Americans are beginning to internalize climate change, to bring it into the here and now," Leiserowitz told LiveScience. "The past two years have been filled with a seemingly endless succession of extreme weather events." [10 Surprising Results of Global Warming]
He and his colleagues were interested to find out what people had experienced in terms of this extreme weather, what kinds of related harm they had experienced and how they had interpreted their experiences regarding climate change.
So they conducted a survey of more than 1,000 Americans ages 18 and older between March 12 and March 30, 2012.
Their results showed that 72 percent of Americans believe global warming worsened the unusually warm winter of December 2011 and January 2012; 70 percent said it worsened the record high summer temperatures in the U.S. in 2011; the drought in Texas and Oklahoma in 2011 (69 percent); record U.S. snowfall in 2010 and 2011 (61 percent); the Mississippi River floods in the spring of 2011 (63 percent); and Hurricane Irene (59 percent).