The Human and Economic Cost of Climate Change in the U.S. and Related Complexities.
Updated: Nov 11, 2022
Reconciling differences in reality and action.
RAYMOND B. KANIU
The human and economic cost of climate change is undeniable and disproportionately affects marginalized communities across the world. According to the 2021 annual report of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the United States experienced the third-costliest extreme weather year on record: $145 billion, 688 deaths, 44-56 percent of the country affected by drought, and the fourth-hottest year on record.
The changes were mostly felt by people of color and low-income communities, as revealed in COP26. Are the current initiatives to mitigate the growing trend undermining the climate crisis in the U.S. enough? The Biden administration’s Build Back Better bill, a $1.75 trillion economic recovery and social welfare bill that includes the largest ever climate investment in the U.S. hangs in suspension in the Senate. The general consensus from climate experts is that the bill has a slim chance of meeting the pledge to cut emissions to at least 50 percent below 2005 levels by 2030. However, the historic U.S. bipartisan Infrastructure Bill, which contains climate change incentives for the transportation industry - a large contributor to carbon emissions - proved that it is possible to meet in the middle. A win that can easily be repeated if we can cast away our differences and push for reasonable changes to satisfy all stakeholders.
December was warmer on the U.S. East Coast, and the cold hugging the region this morning and as the day expires, has revealed an unusual change in weather patterns, almost making us forget about another dark cloud looming, the pandemic. It begs the question, what needs to be said or done in order to achieve a clear and concise direction to affect climate change? The inequalities in climate change mean that the largest carbon emitting countries are doing so at the expense of developing countries, whose reliability on fossil fuels is key to their development.
For example, one of the Supermajors, Royal Dutch Shell has found oil in Namibia. The Southern African nation's economy could use the boost in investments and create jobs that will enrich Namibian lives. Imagine explaining to President Hage Geingob that he would have to forgo that projected development on account of the amount of carbon emissions on the globe (including COP26 agreements) and should seek coveted greener alternatives that will help the world reach their targets? It demonstrates the complexity and inequality of climate change initiatives. Perhaps this is what Senator Joe Manchin’s opposition is built on, and although it is a valid point in Namibia's case as it is in his, it should not be the case in a nation that has the ability to employ energy alternatives as the second largest carbon emitter in the world.
There is a seriousness that Mother Nature demands. We sail in this together as a global collective. We must remember that the ship that does not obey the helm will have to obey the rocks.