Making Climate Political Makes it Harder to Combat

Making Climate Political Makes it Harder to Combat

Extreme weather is coming hard and fast this summer. Record-breaking events, from flooding to high temperatures, are happening with ever-increasing frequency and intensity. Still, climate action by governments is slow-going and compromised by politics, both at home and abroad.

Americans are already paying the price for the Supreme Court’s ruling against the EPA and other roadblocks precluding meaningful climate legislation. All over the country, climate change has started to take a heavier toll as action against it becomes more difficult, and climate opponents continue ignoring the signs.

PBS: What the Supreme Court’s monumental rulings tell us about the new conservative majority, July 4, 2022.

PBS: War on the EPA (full documentary), May 25, 2021.

IEA: A 10-Point Plan to Cut Oil Use, March 18, 2022.

Why This Matters

To the detriment of American (and global) citizens, some politicians have sought to turn climate change into a political culture war. In West Virginia, the home state of Senator Joe Manchin, severe flooding destroyed roads and homes last week. The events marked the second time since June that severe floods have torn through the state and occurred just as Senate Democrats were learning that Manchin would double back on his long-negotiated, lighter climate provisions for the Senate Budget Reconciliation bill.

In states like Texas, which recently suffered its hottest month on record, and Kentucky and West Virginia, which were both hit by last week’s floods, Republican politicians are retaliating against companies that factor climate change into their business plans. Texas leaders went so far as to block Goldman Sachs from bond offerings, a punishment for forfeiting its investments in particular fossil fuel companies.

Weeks later, the Lone Star State is creeping closer to a power failure amid a massive heatwave. Experts worry the combination will be disastrous. “Things are going to break,” warned Michele Richmond, the Executive Director of Texas Competitive Power Advocates, as power plants skipped maintenance, working overtime to cool thousands of sweltering Texas-sized homes.

BBC: Deadly heatwaves '100 times more likely' due to climate change, May 18, 2022.

DW: Time is running out | WMO warns 1.5 degree threshold could be topped by 2026, May 18, 2022.

NBC: Extreme Heat Raises Concerns About US Power Grids, June 17, 2022.

When Weather Events Become Long-term Shifts

As the US West’s historic drought rolls into yet another summer, scientists are now describing the phenomenon as “aridification.” It’s no longer an issue of dryness or a mere extreme weather event; it’s a long-term climatic shift.

“Even though there is going to be a lot of variation year-to-year and decade-to-decade, we are on this trend toward drying,” explained Park Williams, a climate scientist at UCLA, to the Atlantic.

The consequences of the drought are far-reaching, from wildfires to water shortages and a loss of hydropower. Last month, the federal government told states relying on the Colorado River they have 60 days to reach a deal on water usage before it steps in with emergency authority and imposes the cuts themselves.

CNBC: Severe drought in Southwest threatens water and energy security, April 27, 2022.

CNBC: What Is The Future Of Hydropower?, May 28, 2022.

MSNBC: Climate Change Is Our Greatest Existential Threat, January 3, 2022.

CBS: Climate change could displace 200 million in 20 years, disaster relief organization warns, June 1, 2022.