The U.S. Can No Longer Ignore Climate Change

The United States saw some of the worst climate-related disasters in 2021, and it seems as though the problem is only getting worse. Fires have been raging almost constantly across the west coast, and raging snowstorms have blocked travel on the east coast. Additionally, at the start of 2021, a large section of Texas saw a flash freeze that cut power to most of the state for days.

This winter, Texas is experiencing record heat for the season. December 2021 saw a devastating tornado in Kentucky, which left 88 people dead. The U.S. government has provided some assistance to help repair the damage, but the systemic issue behind the rise of climate change remains unsolved. This strategy will not save lives fast enough and will not lower the likelihood of more climate disasters in the future. While President Biden’s attempts to address these problems are positive, many of his suggestions simply do not go far enough or are being blocked in Congress. The effects of climate change are becoming harder to ignore, and now the U.S. is starting to pay. 

One of the efforts in the U.S. to combat the effects of climate change has come in the form of the Build Back Better Act of 2021, which spends over $1 trillion to bolster America’s infrastructure. The bill includes provisions to help the U.S. move towards more sustainable forms of energy to combat climate change. However, the bill has faced severe cuts due to partisan politics and is likely to fail in the Senate by one vote from Senator Joe Manchin, a member of Biden’s party. Manchin is unlikely to support the bill given pressure from a political action committee (PAC), even though it would be extremely beneficial to his home state of West Virginia. 

I mentioned in a previous article that climate change can increase political violence. The basic premise of this idea is that low food or supplies will lead to higher prices with lower supply, which can cause unrest that can boil over into violence. This process is rarely so linear and often involves multiple factors, but the best example of this happening was in Syria, where a bad harvest led to migration, causing a rise in ethnic tensions. While Syria is an extreme example, contemporary climate change is occurring alongside several dangerous events, such as a rise in white nationalism and the COVID-19 pandemic. If climate change is not taken as seriously as these other threats, it will eventually become impossible to mitigate and will take more lives.

World leaders and governments must impose new climate regulations, either in the form of carbon taxes or investments in sustainable energy sources. Most of these regulations should come from a joint coalition between the United States, China, and the European Union, which have contributed the most to rising global temperatures. The goal of the 2015 Paris Accord of keeping global temperatures from rising above 1.5 ℃ is still attainable, according to the United Nations, but only if action is taken now.

Additionally, it is vital that CEOs of major multinational corporations establish policies of their own to keep their emissions down, and that they should aid governments in establishing these rules. It is important to remember that, at present, everyone on earth will be affected by climate change, and if nothing is done to combat it now, the planet will become uninhabitable. If we come together to fight against climate change, it benefits everyone, while doing nothing will benefit no one, including the people fighting against regulation.