UT Energy Poll shows increased belief in climate change

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 In this Wednesday, Aug. 3, 2011 file photo, Texas State Park police officer Thomas Bigham walks across the cracked lake bed of O.C. Fisher Lake in San Angelo, Texas. A combination of the long periods of 100-plus degree days and the lack of rain in the drought-stricken region has dried up the lake that once spanned over 5400 acres. The year 2011 brought a record heat wave to Texas, massive floods in Bangkok and an unusually warm November in England. How much has global warming boosted the chance
In this Wednesday, Aug. 3, 2011 file photo, Texas State Park police officer Thomas Bigham walks across the cracked lake bed of O.C. Fisher Lake in San Angelo, Texas. A combination of the long periods of 100-plus degree days and the lack of rain in the drought-stricken region has dried up the lake that once spanned over 5400 acres. The year 2011 brought a record heat wave to Texas, massive floods in Bangkok and an unusually warm November in England. How much has global warming boosted the chance

According to a recent poll conducted by UT, the number of people who believe in climate change has increased, while the number of climate change deniers has decreased.

Seventy percent of respondents said they believed in climate change, while 15 percent are still not convinced, down from 22 percent in 2010.

The change in poll numbers seems to correspond with the abnormally hot weather the U.S. experienced this year, whereas in 2010, record snowfall led to a low point in climate change acceptance of 52 percent, according to a Brookings Institution poll.

The institution is also reporting high numbers for this year, with 65 percent responding ‘yes’ to the question of whether or not the Earth has been getting warmer over the last 40 years.

According to Bloomberg Businessweek, Sheril Kirshenbaum, director of the poll and UT’s Energy Management and Innovation Center, said climate change is certainly the result of man-made causes.

The public’s perception is in line with climate data. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association, the average landsurface temperature so far this year has been about two degrees higher than the average of the last 100 years.

Higher acceptance of climate change may also be attributed to the drought that is currently affecting 55 percent of the U.S., which Texas is all too familiar with.

What do higher temperatures mean for the planet? NASA reported Tuesday that 97 percent of Greenland’s ice sheet has experienced melting in July.

This is a sharp increase from the average percentage of about 50 percent during the last 30 years. Scientists attribute the melting to a large "heat dome" of warm air over Greenland that has been present since May.

Higher temperatures also lead to larger insect populations arriving earlier than usual. USA Today reported Tuesday that pest controllers are dealing with larger insect infestations this year due to high temperatures, which allow the insects to breed and develop much faster.

Austin experienced the cricket invasion in full force last June, just as the city broke its monthly temperature record of 109 degrees.