Recently, temperatures in parts of the U.S. surpassed 110 degrees Fahrenheit while Europe simultaneously experienced record temperatures, reaching more than 104 degrees Fahrenheit in the U.K. Climate scientists reported that the heat waves are interconnected and that this trend will likely continue, anticipating that temperature levels will become more extreme. Data also show that heat waves are one of the deadliest extreme weather events

Given the far-reaching implications, CivicScience checked in on how people are feeling about climate change in general and the weather in their respective areas. 

A running survey of more than 1.2 million U.S. adults over the last five years shows that the majority of U.S. adults are worried about climate change on some level. Within the last year, opinions on climate change and the environment have been largely stagnant with 60% of adults sharing some level of concern. Since 2020, the percentage of those who are “very or somewhat concerned” have actually dropped by eight percentage points (as per yearly averages) – a trend that CivicScience reported on this spring.

While apprehension levels have declined since 2020, 60% of people likewise report that they feel the weather has been different in their own areas in the past year – meaning they may be observing first-hand how impacts of climate change are affecting their local communities.   

This summer, more than half of U.S. adults report noticing warmer weather than in summers past. This figure aligns with reporting from the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions that shows that record high temperatures have occurred twice as often as record low temperatures over the past decade in the United States. 

A higher percentage of people (63%) are apprehensive about how climate change impacts their individual areas. Concerns are much higher in the Midwestern and Western regions of the U.S. – likely due to the higher frequency of heatwaves, wildfires, and drought in Western states and possibly the extreme heat recently observed in the Midwest in states like Kansas, Oklahoma, and South Dakota. 

It also seems that those who have been feeling more worried than usual within the last month are more likely to be very concerned about climate change. This finding corresponds to reports of growing “climate anxiety,” which is recognized as a distinct mental health condition impacting people’s health.

Climate scientists project that there may be anywhere from 20 to 30 more days in a calendar year where temperatures surpass 90 degrees Fahrenheit in most areas by the middle of the century unless greenhouse gas emissions are significantly lowered. Another study suggests that the number of days we experience with a heat index over 100 degrees Fahrenheit will double. As the impacts of climate change are measured, CivicScience will continue to track how extreme weather affects public opinion.