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.
(Two New Yorkers who believe in climate change: Governor Andrew Cuomo and New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg. The latter said it was the prime force behind his endorsement of President Obama for reelection. And the governor is likely to be talking about it as he makes the rounds in D.C. to push for disaster aid.)
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.