A recent article in the Guardian revealed that around 70% of Americans now believe in the science behind global warming, according to polling by the University of Michigan and Muhlenberg College. This is the highest belief-rate since the 1980s. Prof Barry Rabe, a co-author from the University of Michigan, said that many of those polled cited weather events close to home as the source of their newly confirmed belief in climate change.

One of the problems with data is its inability to lend itself to real life. Its only when things manifest themselves physically that we begin to understand the abstract numbers of scientific research – and looking at the severe weather experienced by the United States, it’s not surprising that people are beginning to believe in climate change.

The Californian drought.
California always has dry and wet years – but the past three years have been amongst the driest on record. On Thursday, a thunderstorm brought some rain down on the state. Unfortunately, this was the opposite of helpful – the thunderstorm brought flash floods and mudslides. As I’m writing this, at least 30 vehicles are still stuck in mud on State Route 58.

Hurricane Sandy
Hurricane Sandy was the second costliest hurricane in history, costing nearly $75 Billion dollars and claiming the lives of 233 people globally. One of the factors which contributed to the storm’s ferocity was the abnormally warm sea surface temperatures offshore the East Coast of the United States. This was more than 3 °C (5 °F) above normal, to which global warming had contributed 0.6 °C (1 °F).

Hurricane Katrina
Hurricane Katrina is the costliest hurricane in history, damaging the economy to the tune of $108 billion. In New Orleans, Louisiana, 80% of the city was flooded because of the storm. It was a mass tragedy, which resulted in the deaths of at least 1,245 people.

These incidents can’t be written off as anomalies – in 2014, the UN found that disasters (including storms, floods and heatwaves) have increased fivefold since the 1970s. Future projections indicate that heatwaves and floods are to become more likely, and the economic side effects – and health effects – of these future natural disasters will be eye-watering. New legislation and individual action is needed to curb the effects of climate change.

In conclusion: Acceptance is the first step. Next comes tackling the problem.