Yet, rather than citing recent research on the topic -- such as the IPCC SREX report -- the NYT decides to cheer about the public misunderstanding and speculate on its possible political usefulness:
Read together, the polls suggest that direct experience of erratic weather may be convincing some people that the problem is no longer just a vague and distant threat.Ends justify the means -- This reminds me of Dick Cheney's comments about connections between Al Qaeda and Saddam Hussein. It is the political outcome that matters, no?
The poll reported by the NYT actually reports nothing new, the public has for a long time (decades and centuries, actually, see Stehr and von Storch, PDF) believed that the human impact on weather is much greater than the science shows.
Here is an excerpt from The Climate Fix where I discuss this very issue:
Some advocates, including some scientists, seek to have things both ways when they assert that a particular weather event is “consistent with” predictions of human-caused climate change. The snowy period of early 2010 along the U.S. East Ccoast saw those opposed to action suggesting that the record snow and cold cast doubt on the science of human-caused climate change, while at the same time those calling for action explained that the weather was “consistent with” the forecasts from climate models. Both lines of argument were misleading. Any and all weather is “consistent with” predictions from climate models under a human influence on the climate system. Similarly, any and all weather is also “consistent with” failing predictions of long-term climate change. Simply put, weather is not climate. Given the degree of politicization of the climate debate, we should not be surprised that even the weather gets politicized.
By the same token, it should come as no surprise that many in the public hold views about climate science that are way out in front of the scientific consensus on climate change as represented by the reports of the IPCC. The result is that when people learn what the science actually says, there is a risk that they will learn that their views are in fact incompatible with what the science can support, leading to a belief that the science has been overstated in public debate.