The toll of natural disastersFollowing tropical cyclones, drought and extreme heat are responsible for the largest sum of natural disaster related fatalities, causing 4,048 deaths between 1980 and 2021 in the U.S. Rising global temperatures continue to concern many, with potential repercussions of the changing weather patterns being more frequent wildfires, agricultural destruction, extreme heat related health concerns, and food insecurity for humans and wildlife. Under a global warming level of two degrees Celsius, dry regions around the world are 2.4 times more likely to experience agricultural and ecological drought in the next decade. In 2021, more than 2.2 million acres were burned by wildfires in the state of California, and nine of the ten largest wildfires in California since 1932 have occurred in the last decade. In a 2021 survey, 42.6 percent of U.S. adults claimed to have experienced warmer temperatures in their own environments.
Climate change and natural disastersAcross the U.S. there is growing concern around the relationship between climate change, extreme weather, and the resulting increase of natural disasters. Many agree with scientists, who continue to find links between global warming and increasing natural disasters. According to a 2022 survey, more than 20 percent of adults in the U.S. stated that they were very worried about extreme heat in their area. A similar percentage reported being very worried about water pollution, water shortages, and droughts. The concern surrounding climate change has emerged as the U.S. continues to see increasing average temperatures. As of 2021, the average temperature in the contiguous U.S. was 54.51 degrees Fahrenheit (12.51 degrees Celsius), which was around 2.5 degrees Fahrenheit higher than the 20th century average. It is projected that droughts will become more common and severe in the future.
According to a U.S. 2021 survey on climate change, more than three quarters of respondents showed support of funding research into renewable energy sources, as well as providing tax rebates for energy-efficient vehicles or solar panels. The majority agreed that schools should teach about global warming, and that carbon dioxide pollutants should be regulated. After China, the United States is responsible for the highest emissions of carbon dioxide in the world. Cumulatively, the United States has emitted more than 400 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, making it the largest global contributor by a significant margin. Although it is the leading producer of carbon emissions, the United States does not fall among the top 20 countries with the highest climate protection-based achievements.