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Fact Sheet: The Connection Between Climate Change and Recent Extreme Weather Events

The United States has been experiencing ongoing extreme heat, droughts, and wildfires. This fact sheet examines the connection between climate change and these recent extreme weather events.

Key Findings

Executive Summary

What do we know about the connection between climate change and recent extreme weather events, such as the heat waves, drought, and fires?

Scientists agree that climate change has already primed the pump for extreme weather events:

  • A recent report by National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) scientists compared the rising risk of extreme weather events to a baseball player’s improved performance after taking steroids. “For any one of his home runs... you would not know for sure whether it was caused by steroids or not.... But you might be able to attribute his increased number to the steroids.”

  • Recent climate science assessment reports by the U.S. National Academy of Sciences and the U.S. Global Change Research Program find that several types of extreme weather are on the rise, that man-made climate change is likely responsible, and that these trends are expected to continue. Jonathan Overpeck, a professor of geosciences and atmospheric sciences at the University of Arizona, said, “This is certainly what I and many other climate scientists have been warning about.... This is what global warming looks like at the regional or personal level.”

Download the fact sheet to see full citations.

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