Uncharted Territory


RSS     Archives



Recent warmer winters may be cooling climate change concern

April 20, 2016

The vast majority of Americans have experienced more favorable weather conditions over the past 40 years, researchers from New York University and Duke University have found. The trend is projected to reverse over the course of the coming century, but that shift may come too late to spur demands for policy responses to address climate change.

The analysis, published in the journal Nature, found that 80 percent of Americans live in counties where the weather is more pleasant than four decades ago. Winter temperatures have risen substantially throughout the United States since the 1970s, but summers have not become markedly more uncomfortable. The result is that weather has shifted toward a temperate year-round climate that Americans have been demonstrated to prefer.

念のためNatureに発表されたものも抜粋します。PodcastにMegan Mullinさんが出てお話しされていました。14分くらいです。スカンジナビアでは気温は温厚になっているが環境問題の意識は高いというツッコミを受けていました。確かにこういう研究は結論ありきのものになりがちです。

Recent improvement and projected worsening of weather in the United States
• Patrick J. Egan & Megan Mullin
Nature 532, 357–360 (21 April 2016) doi:10.1038/nature17441

Received 30 March 2015 Accepted 16 February 2016 Published online 20 April 2016

Our results have implications for the public’s understanding of the climate change problem, which is shaped in part by experiences with local weather15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20. Whereas weather patterns in recent decades have served as a poor source of motivation for Americans to demand a policy response to climate change, public concern may rise once people’s everyday experiences of climate change effects start to become less pleasant.


To quantify how Americans are evaluating these changes, Egan and Mullin drew upon research by economists examining weather’s role in growth of the Sun Belt and population declines in the Northeast and Midwest. Using these findings, they developed a metric of the average American’s preferences about weather. This “weather preference index” (WPI) reflects the U.S. public’s preferences for places with warmer temperatures in winter and cooler temperatures and lower humidity in summer. The index also takes into account preferences about precipitation. Egan and Mullin found that WPI scores have risen in counties accounting for 80 percent of the U.S. population since the 1970s.
But projections of future temperatures—and future WPI scores—offer a markedly different picture. Climate change models predict that under all potential levels of future warming, average summer temperatures will ultimately rise at a faster rate than winter temperatures. Using these projections, the researchers calculated that under a severe warming scenario, WPI scores will decline such that an estimated 88 percent of the U.S. public will experience less pleasant weather at the end of this century than it has in the past 40 years.