Voters don't think climate change caused Hurricane Sandy, but are more concerned about global warming than they were three years ago, according to a poll released Wednesday by Quinnipiac University.
According to the poll, which included surveys of 1,949 registered voters nationwide, 37 percent of voters think Hurricane Sandy was the result of climate change, compared to 51 percent who think the two are unrelated. A majority (55 percent) of Democrats think climate change caused Sandy, compared to just 14 percent of Republicans. A little over a third of independents think climate change caused the hurricane.
The science on the issue is mixed: Most climate scientists believe that higher ocean surface temperatures and rising sea levels have contributed to more frequent and severe storms, but they say it's impossible to blame any single event on climate change.
"You can't say climate change specifically caused this hurricane, which was quite a special situation," says Aslack Grinsted, who earlier this year correlated severe hurricanes with warmer ocean temperatures. "You can't say [global warming] caused any single event, but when we start to see a trend like this, I think it shows that there's a good chance these hurricanes wouldn't be happening without warming."
Meanwhile, more people are taking global warming seriously: 66 percent of voters are "very concerned" or "somewhat concerned" with climate change, compared to 59 percent in a similar poll from 2009—a 12 percent increase.
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Jason Koebler is a science and technology reporter for U.S. News & World Report. You can follow him on Twitter or reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.