Areas of Long Island, N.Y. following Hurricane Sandy Oct. 30, 2012. (Photo by U.S. Coast Guard / Petty Officer 2nd Class Rob Simpson)
Most New Yorkers say climate change is the reason for severe storms like Hurricane Sandy.
According to a recent Siena poll, at least 63 percent of voters from across the state -- including two-thirds of upstate residents and three-quarters of those in New York City – say severe storms over the last two years demonstrate the existence of global climate change.
"There may be a debate about what has caused the global climate change," says Siena pollster Steven Greenberg, "but for most New Yorkers there is no debate that it is occurring.”
That mirrors national numbers. In a pre-Sandy poll conducted in October by the Pew Research Center, 67 percent of respondents said they believed in global warming.
But the issue reveals a stark partisan divide. In the Siena poll, eight in ten Democrats say severe storms demonstrated climate change -- whereas Republicans are nearly evenly divided, with 46 percent saying climate change is behind big storms and 44 percent calling them isolated weather events. The Pew poll found similar national numbers.
But as politicians, these two are outliers. Neither Obama nor Republican Mitt Romney mentioned climate change during the presidential debates. A Frontline documentary that aired in October provides some thoughts as to why: climate skeptics have worked hard to introduce doubt into the conversation surrounding the climate change debate -- successfully making it a partisan issue.
Kate Hinds is an Associate Producer for WNYC News. She also reports for WNYC and Transportation Nation, a public radio reporting project that combines the work of multiple newsrooms to provide coverage of how we build, rebuild and get around the nation.
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