The costs of climate change fall on states that cannot afford them

Between 2018 and 2022, many of the states with high poverty rates (Oklahoma and New York) were also the states that suffered the most damage from extreme weather. A new climate study indicates that things are going to get worse in those places and for the poor.

the federal government Fifth National Climate Assessment was published last week and concludes that we are literally running out of places to hide.

opinion columnist

LZ Granderson

LZ Granderson writes about culture, politics, sports, and living life in America.

Right now, according to the report, more than half of all Americans live somewhere where the weather is expected to be more extreme more often. No matter how much humans try to put a red-blue spin on climate problems, the climate doesn’t care: The prices of climate damage for Texas and California were roughly the same during the time period the report assessed.

In 2021, future presidential candidate Ron DeSantis referred to aggressive climate change policies as “left-wing stuff.” But if you don’t know, Florida, the state where DeSantis is in charge, spent more in those years.

So far this year, the country has experienced 25 climate disasters that cost at least $1 billion, a record number. “Left stuff” is a political stance, not a practical one. Here’s a practical concern: To address climate damage, Louisiana is spending like Texas, but it’s not in a position to do so. Louisiana has a poverty rate of 18.6%, the second highest in the country. Neighboring Mississippi, which has the highest child poverty rate in the country (nearly 28%), will be forced to spend more and more money on disasters, an expense it cannot afford.

Even before the price of climate change has soared further, the nation is already struggling to reach agreement on financial priorities. While House Republicans are always pushing for spending cuts and reminding us of our $33 trillion in debt, it’s easy to forget that people are attached to those cuts to programs like Medicare and Medicaid: people on fixed incomes, including old people… 23% of which live in poverty. already; people without much in the bank, like much of the United States. The Motley Fool reported that the average American has $1,200 in savingsThere is not much room for maneuver.

The new climate report is a cry for help, and yet Republicans in some of our poorest states continue to make it political. We are well past the point of politicking. Recently, about 125,000 homes and businesses in Florida Lost electricity due to heavy rain. That’s not “left-wing stuff,” Gov. DeSantis said. It is one of the main reasons why insurance companies leaving the state.

This is why it is simply not possible to have substantive political conversations about spending cuts with politicians who rely on climate change denial to get elected. They are in no position to talk about budgets, because they are committed to denying one of the biggest elephants in the room.

And it’s not just the denial that’s worrying, but the people most likely to suffer from it: the poor. The trend to move to so-called climate havens (cities less likely to experience major storms in the future) is monetizing the desperation of the rich while highlighting the vulnerability of the poor. This means there will be more climate migrants within the United States, exacerbating competition for housing in some areas and increasing housing costs. That is not a problem that can be solved with austerity.

Nor can one avoid meaningless ramblings about Offshore wind farms drive whales “crazy.” That was one of the most recent comments on climate change from GOP presidential front-runner Donald Trump. Some states that supported it in 2016 are on the list of those spending the most on climate damages, even if they are also very poor. You’d think they’d be ready for a real conversation about climate policy, which, in fact, isn’t just “left-wing stuff.”

I don’t know what all the climate change strategies should be or where the money will come from. I know it’s impossible to find answers with leaders who benefit from avoiding the problem.


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