By Dino Grandoni

This winter, temperatures plunged so low in the Midwest — at times below minus-50 degrees — that mail service stalled, airline gas lines froze and Chicago set parts of its commuter rail on fire to stop the bone-deep chill from damaging the tracks.

Few would blame those gripped by the cold for not thinking very much about global warming.

Yet some of them were.

New polling shows that one in three Americans blamed unusual winter temperatures on Earth’s changing climate.

The survey, published by Gallup on Tuesday, indicates U.S. residents are becoming more likely to attribute unusual weather in their own backyards — including even that teeth-chattering cold this winter — to broader global changes in the planet’s climate because of human activity.

The idea is that the lack of sea ice up north destabilizes the jet stream that encircles the Arctic, causing the river of air to dip farther to the south and deliver a punch of cold polar wind to low latitudes. As more Americans hear about that theory, still not fully accepted by all climate scientists, more may be associating the cold snaps with climate change.

Other recent polling show Americans increasingly noticing what they think are the effects of climate change around them following recent torrential hurricanes and massive wildfires — weather events scientists know with more certainty are made worse by warming temperatures.

According to a University of Chicago survey, for example, of the respondents that said they found the climate science more convincing than they did five years ago, three-quarters of them acknowledged that recent hurricanes, floods, droughts and unusual heat influenced their views.

Continue reading at The Washington Post…

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