How does an organization that reports on the weather insert itself into the debate without getting political? Just take a look at the Weather Company, the parent company of the Weather Channel and Weather Underground.
“We insert climate into every weather story,” says David Kenny, CEO of the Weather Company. “We’re scientific journalists. We start with science and try to tell scientifically based stories. It’s not a political point of view.”
That means a story about Superstorm Sandy doesn’t just discuss the facts of the storm. It also delves into the science behind it—and how that might relate to climate change. A blog from meteorologist Stu Ostro on Weather Underground, for example, goes into detail on the storm’s path, and then explains how climate change plays a part.
In an on-camera segment on the Weather Channel, he stated the issue plainly: “In the wake of Sandy, there have been two opposite, extreme reactions: either, ‘Of course global warming caused it,’ or, ‘That’s balderdash!’ What we need to do take a step back, take a deep breath, and objectively assess what role if any global warming may have played. When we do that, given the storm’s track and meteorological nature, its context amongst other extreme events and patterns in recent years, and what one would expect to see in a warmed climate system and the physical processes involved, a reasonable initial conclusion is that global warming—the changing climate—did contribute to the outcome.”
About six in ten Americans (58%) say “global warming is affecting weather in the United States.”
Many Americans believe global warming made recent extreme weather and climatic events “more severe,” specifically: 2012 as the warmest year on record in the United States (50%); the ongoing drought in the Midwest and the Great Plains (49%); Superstorm Sandy (46%); and Superstorm Nemo (42%).
About two out of three Americans say weather in the U.S. has been worse over the past several years, up 12 percentage points since Spring 2012. By contrast, fewer Americans say weather has been getting better over the past several years - only one in ten (11%), down 16 points compared to a year ago.
Overall, 85 percent of Americans report that they experienced one or more types of extreme weather in the past year, most often citing extreme high winds (60%) or an extreme heat wave (51%).
Of those Americans who experienced extreme weather events in the past year, many say they were significantly harmed. Moreover, the number who have been harmed appears to be growing (up 5 percentage points since Fall 2012 and 4 points since Spring 2012).
Over half of Americans (54%) believe it is “very” or “somewhat likely” that extreme weather will cause a natural disaster in their community in the coming year.
Americans who experienced an extreme weather event are most likely to have communicated about it person-to-person - either in person (89%) or on the phone (84%).
The report includes an Executive Summary and a breakdown of results by region and can be downloaded here.