In New Enland, people gladly welcome the snowy winter season, which a significant sector for many of the states’ economy. But on Oct. 29, 2011, when a major nor’easter pounded the region, much of the region. Not only was the prospect of a white Halloween hard to swallow, many of the trees in New Hampshire’s forests were still in leaf. As the snow piled up, tree limbs began snapping, knocking out power lines and threatening another important economic resource – fall foliage.
The Halloween Nor’easter is just one of many of extreme weather events that have taken place over the past 12 months. Eastern Europe experienced one of the coldest winters in memory, and further west, cities such as Athens and Rome were paralyzed by rare snowstorms. In the United States, a string of deadly tornadoes started ripping through the Midwest in February. Meanwhile, many major cities have skated through March with record-high temperature.
The extreme weather has triggered an increase in concern about climate change. Back in 2006, Al Gore released his film, “An Inconvenient Truth”, which was a documentary that influenced many people’s beliefs on the issue, as well as received a lot of criticism for the facts presented. Around the same time, international conferences on global warming were in the headlines and climate change became an issue that paved a lot of common ground among organizations and government parties. Everyone from Girl Scout troops to governors were committed to reducing carbon emissions and slowing the pace of the Earth’s rising temperatures.
The National Survey of American Public Opinion on Climate Change was launched in 2008 and found that, in that year, 75 percent of people polled felt that man-made climate change was a real and serious problem. However, in the wake of the global economic crisis of 2008-2009, that number began to slip as people became more concerned about jobs and financial security. Only half of the Americans polled in the spring of 2010 said that climate change was a real problem.
But the latest set of numbers from the survey, which were released in February, show that 62 percent of those polled said there was evidence that the world’s temperature is rising, 12 percent were unsure if climate change was real and 26 percent said global warming wasn’t a legitimate problem. Those who said climate change is occurring added their opinions were the result of personal experiences and observations of extreme weather events, and by reports of melting glaciers and declining populations of polar bears and penguins.
Even with the threat of $5 a gallon gas now looming for the summer, Americans are watching the changes in their surrounding environments and making up their minds on climate change. In addition to dramatic storms and temperature swings, people are seeing changes in wildlife populations, with birds migrating at different times. Trees are blooming out of season, and the maple sugaring season was cut short this winter when warmer temperatures decreased sap production.
What are your feelings on climate change? Have you seen any changes in your area to sway you either way?