Climate change: The Biden administration just unveiled a set of bleak climate change reports. Climate change would disrupt practically every facet of living, including more traffic and disease, according to 23 federal agencies’ reports.
About two dozen federal agencies unveiled reports Thursday outlining the major threats climate change presents to their respective departments and their plans to address them, highlighting the immense policy issues the United States confronts as the globe continues to warm.
President Biden directed each agency in an executive order to compile the reports in January. They outline how climate change would affect every aspect of everyday life, from places of residence to what people eat and how people travel to work.
Twenty-three agencies, including Agriculture, Defense, Homeland Security, Education, and Transportation, have launched climate adaptation plans. Each report details how climate change is already impacting the federal government’s activities and the threat the country faces as the effects of climate change deepen. The reports include:
- Investing in more robust infrastructure.
- Ensuring that new buildings and facilities are environmentally friendly.
- Training staff about climate change.
Climate change has resulted in continued drought, flooding, and disease outbreaks.
According to the Agriculture Department, temperature changes, excessive floods and droughts, and increased pests and diseases will affect America’s food supply. At the same time, the Department of Housing and Urban Development did caution that affordable housing “is increasingly at risk from both extreme weather events and sea-level rise.”
More humans are exposed to brutal heat and floodwaters due to climate change and specific illnesses when tick and mosquito life cycles change. They highlighted that severe weather disasters contribute to anxiety, depression, and other mental health problems.
The reports represent one of the first agency-wide assessments of climate change’s impact since the Obama administration when the federal government performed such assessment. Under President Donald Trump, government research into climate change was curtailed mainly, as he publicly poured scorn on the reality of human-caused global warming.
The United States is still rebounding from the hottest summer on record this year. In August, the United Nations released a damning report warning that the global community faces an incredibly narrow window of time to cut fossil fuel emissions or face devastating consequences significantly.
Biden campaigned on an assurance to prioritize climate change, but some Democrats and activists claim he has not dealt with sufficient urgency. As Biden negotiates his infrastructure and social spending bills with Congress, proponents have expressed fears that climate efforts may be watered down or cut entirely.
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According to the Education Department’s report, over a million students in California alone were impacted by school closures due to wildfires during the 2018-19 school year. Students in Puerto Rico missed an average of 78 days of school following hurricanes Maria and Irma.
In 2016, a flood in West Virginia caused $130 million in damage to surrounding schools, and over 6,300 schools around the US serve 4 million kids who live in floodplains.
Climate change-related disruptions to transportation
The Transportation Department noted that as temperatures rise, asphalt roads deteriorate, resulting in increased traffic. Additionally, higher temperatures limit the distance an aircraft can travel and the amount of cargo it can carry. Severe weather events could exacerbate the problem, resulting in widespread canceled flights “for long periods.”
In the report’s introduction, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin stated that climate change is a “destabilizing force” throughout the world. In the last few years, climate-related events such as wildfires and flooding have forced the evacuation of US military bases.
According to the Department of Homeland Security, extreme droughts and storms, particularly in Mexico, Central America, and the Caribbean, have the potential to “drive population migrations across the US border, both legal and illegal,” according to the Department of Homeland Security. Increased temperatures, the report notes, can further change disease patterns, putting the public and plant and animal health at risk of illness.
Each department stressed the need to prioritize disadvantaged people disproportionately impacted by climate change, a commitment that mirrors the Biden administration’s commitment to racial fairness. For example, the Transportation Department’s report on “climate equity” includes a section on “alleviating the impacts of heat, poor air quality, vector-borne disease, and other climate change impacts” when siting and planning work.
Next month, Biden travels to Glasgow, Scotland, for the annual United Nations Climate Change Conference. World leaders are expected to offer updates on the 2015 Paris climate agreement’s objectives.
Biden has committed to halving the United States’ greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 as part of the country’s new commitment to the historic deal.