Flooding in Onslow County from Hurricane Matthew. National Weather Service

As floods worsen, tide is shifting in climate-change debate

Inside and outside the walls of the state legislature, there’s been a noticeable shift in the conversation about climate change and its impact on North Carolina.

It’s driven in part by a renewed political debate, but according to recent studies and surveys, it’s mainly the result of personal experience.

A new study by the Yale University Program on Climate Change Communication shows a noticeable jump nationwide in the number of people in the U.S. who believe they have experienced global warming’s effects.

The study, Climate Change in the American Mind, which was released in December, found that 46 percent of those surveyed said they had personally experienced the effects of global warming, two-thirds said global warming is affecting weather in the United States and more than half said warming has made natural disasters such as wildfires and hurricanes worse.

That change is evident in North Carolina, where record rainfalls statewide and the devastating effects of natural disasters, especially the repeated inundation of eastern North Carolina from hurricanes, has helped change the dialogue from one of questioning whether climate change is happening to what can be done about it.

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