How Extreme Weather Is Affecting People’s Opinions Of Climate Change : NPR

June 4, 20196:03 PM ET
Heard on All Things Considered

Nathan Rott

An increasing body of research finds people’s beliefs about climate change can be changed by big disasters, like the current flooding across America’s heartland.


The heavy rains, record floods and extreme weather in the Central U.S. this spring are the kinds of events expected to become more common with climate change. On a reporting trip in Oklahoma and Arkansas last week, NPR’s Nathan Rott decided to ask whether the people living through these disasters link them to climate change.

NATHAN ROTT, BYLINE: First day in Oklahoma, first interview, a guy named Matt Breiner is on a bridge near downtown Tulsa watching a bloated Arkansas River surge underneath. Asked if he was worried about the flooding, he says, no, he’s not, not for himself – maybe others down river, but he’s fine. And then without prompting, he says this.

MATT BREINER: It just tells us that if we’re – we got to come to a conclusion about – not to get crazy – but global warming. If this is going to be an ongoing thing…

ROTT: Now, as someone who covers a lot of natural disasters in the U.S., I can tell you that climate change does not often come up when I’m out talking to people on the ground, not like this. And it made me wonder if other people experiencing or seeing the flooding were thinking about climate change, too. So I started to ask. At other windy bridges like this one in Fort Smith, Ark…

…(read more)

[To consider the public perception of our changing climate as it is contrasted with the scientific understanding of our circumstance see related report on same program, NPR, ATC, 4 June 2019:]


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