These views also relate strongly to concern. People who see these weather events as associated with global warming are much more likely to be concerned about global warming and to support government action to address it.
In their own experience, 43 percent say weather patterns in the county where they live have been more unstable in the last three years; that's down from 54 and 52 percent, respectively, the last two years. There could be a seasonal effect; those polls were done in March and April, this one in late July.
Important factors in views on global warming are trust in scientists and perceptions of scientific debate.
Americans divide about evenly, 47-49 percent, on whether or not they trust what scientists say about the environment; those who trust scientists are far likelier to express concern about global warming and to favor action to address it.
Moreover, most Americans, 57 percent, continue to think there's "a lot of disagreement" among scientists about whether or not global warming is happening; again, those who instead think scientists mainly agree (39 percent) are more apt to be concerned about it, and to want to see it addressed. (Even more, 62 and 63 percent, think scientists disagree on how much of a threat global warming poses, and what's causing it.)
Holding other factors constant, the single strongest predictor of concern about global warming is the belief that it's caused by human activity. Concern also is predicted by trust in what scientists say about the issue, belief that scientists agree, and the level of attention people are paying to global warming.
Attitudes about global warming split along partisan and ideological lines; for instance, 53 percent of Democrats call it a very serious problem, compared with one in five Republicans. Concern also is higher among women, younger adults and non-whites, and lower among men, whites and evangelical Protestants.
Women, notably, are much more likely than men to think the environment is in poor shape (63 percent vs. 47 percent), to think that global warming is caused by human activity (64 percent vs. 52 percent) and to say it's personally important to them (72 percent vs. 59 percent).
Contrary to some suggestions, concern about global warming is lower among evangelical white Protestants (who are disproportionately Republicans and conservatives). They're less apt than other Americans to see global warming as very serious (26 percent vs. 40 percent), to say it's personally important to them (35 percent vs. 48 percent) or to say the government should be doing more about it (46 percent vs. 64 percent).
METHODOLOGY: This ABC News/Planet Green/Stanford University poll was conducted by telephone July 23-28, 2008, among a random national sample of 1,000 adults. The results from the full survey have a 3-point error margin. Sampling, data collection and tabulation by TNS of Horsham, PA.
This survey, produced in consultation with Prof. Jon Krosnick and the Woods Institute for the Environment at Stanford University, builds on an ABC News/Washington Post/Stanford poll in 2007, an ABC News/Time magazine/Stanford poll in 2006 and polls by Krosnick at The Ohio State University in 1997 and 1998. Planet Green is a 24-hour lifestyle and entertainment television network launched in June by Discovery, LLC.