Hot Dry Days Increase Perceived Experience With Global Warming
36 Pages Posted: 23 Sep 2019
Date Written: August 7, 2019
Public perceptions of climate change in the United States are deeply rooted in cultural values and political identities. Yet, as the public experiences extreme weather and other climate change-related impacts, their perceptions of the issue may shift. Here, we explore whether, when, and where local climate trends have already influenced opinions about global warming in the United States. Using a large national survey dataset (n=13,607), we compare Americans' climate views with corresponding trends in seven different high-resolution climate indicators for the period 2008 to 2015. We find that increases in hot dry day exposure significantly increases individuals' perceptions that they have personally experienced global warming. We do not find robust evidence that other precipitation and temperature anomalies have had a similar effect. We also use multilevel modeling to explore county-level patterns of perceived experiences with climate change. Whereas the individual-level analysis describes the causal relationship between a changing climate and individuals' perceived experience, the multilevel model depicts county-level changes in perceived experience resulting from particular climate trends. Overall, we find that exposure to extreme weather, specifically hot dry days, has a modest influence on perceived experience, independent of the political and socio-demographic factors that dominate U.S. climate opinions today.
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation