How Climate Disasters are Shaping Our Everyday Lives, and What We Can Do About It

More than nine inches of rain inundated Vermont communities with catastrophic flooding and mudslides across the state and sent rivers to their second-highest levels ever recorded. This is the second 100-year-flood Vermont has experienced in the last dozen years, breaking expectations and records. In addition to flooded homes and washed-away roads, more than 20,000 Vermonters were without power, as utility line crews attempt to repair power lines and regain access to flooded substations.

Globally, unnatural disasters like this are becoming more frequent, intense, and longer-lasting because of climate change. According to First Street Foundation’s new study, more than half of Americans are at increased risk of flooding, in part because of outdated and failing county stormwater systems.

Other devastating events include the June wildfires which blanketed the East Coast, mid-Atlantic, and Midwest with toxic smoke, the winter storms in 2022 and 2021, and the 2020 heat wave in California collectively left millions without power, and hundreds died from heat or cold. 

The economic and emotional toll that these events have on communities is staggering. In 2022 alone, weather and climate disasters cost the U.S. about $177 billion dollars and claimed 474 lives. The cost of our inaction on climate means we’ll continue to experience more frequent and severe floods, mudslides, blizzards, wildfires, and heat waves—and the deaths and destruction they bring.

To make significant changes that address our climate, energy, and biodiversity crises in the timeframe required, we need to use all the tools in our toolbox. Now, more than ever, we must rally behind “both/and” solutions—like the responsible expansion of renewable energy and transmission, natural climate solutions, climate-smart agriculture, and carbon removal technologies like direct air capture and carbon recycling—to counter the effects of climate change and prevent further damage from severe weather events. These efforts, when paired together, will maximize both ecosystem and energy resiliency.

The summer of 2023 has broken records across the globe. Worldwide, the first week of July was the hottest week ever recorded. The American Southwest is baking under a heat dome, the ocean waters off the Florida coast are already in the mid-90s, and more rain is forecast for the Northeast. Will this be the year all leaders in Washington start seeing climate change as the existential threat it is?

One step we can take today, right now, is to send a comment in support of the Biden’s Administration’s plan to generate more electricity from clean sources like solar and wind.