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If you’re in the United States and want to know what can be expected from climate change, you can probably just take a look out the window, notes the Associated Press. A grand total of 3,215 daily temperature records were set in June as the country was struck by heat waves, freak storms, and wildfires. Although it’s too early to directly link the strange weather this summer to climate change, it certainly follows the pattern that experts in the field have long warned about.
"This is what global warming looks like at the regional or personal level," said Jonathan Overpeck, a professor at the University of Arizona.
Of course, there are skeptics who say history is full of examples of extreme weather and this is just Mother Nature being Mother Nature. “But the vast majority of mainstream climate scientists … disagree,” writes the AP.
In an editorial, the Los Angeles Times pointedly notes that global warming isn’t “just about the polar bears anymore,” adding that the public needs to pay attention to recent reports that show the reality of climate change. Although skeptics have long decried warnings as fear mongering, the truth is that they should be taken more seriously now considering “emerging patterns that closely fit earlier forecasts.”
Yet even as climate change becomes more obvious, it's no longer seen as the top environmental problem. Only 18 percent of people in the United States consider it their top environmental concern, down from 33 percent in 2007, reports the Washington Post. That was the year in which a major U.N. report on climate change, as well as Al Gore’s documentary, made headlines. Now, as the issue has fallen to the back burner in Washington, 29 percent of Americans say water and air pollution is the most important issue, notes the paper.
Still, that doesn’t mean Americans don’t think it’s important, with 78 percent saying it will become a serious problem if nothing is done to address the issue. And it may be that the public has their priorities in order. After all, in a recent Project Syndicate column published in Slate, Bjørn Lomborg wrote that air and water pollution is a far more serious problem than global warming.