As you might expect, the Texas politicians who deny the reality of climate change and the utility executives who mismanaged the Texas power grid weren’t the ones who suffered the most from last week’s winter storms. . And those hardest hit – residents of minority neighborhoods – certainly couldn’t fly to Cancun with Ted Cruz to escape the cold. “Let them eat snow”, indeed.
The full range of reasons for the power outages will be investigated, and Texas officials may even pull themselves together enough to develop a plan to mitigate damage from future extreme weather events. But at this point, it is impossible to stop the weather calamities themselves.
We don’t know for sure that these particular storms were the result of an unstable climate, although there is science to support this theory. What we do know is that the extreme weather conditions are no longer noticeable. Floods that have happened once every 100 years – like century-old hurricanes, century-old wildfires, and century-old winter storms – are happening much more often now, and their frequency will continue to increase.
These are not acts of God. These are acts of human behavior, the erratic weather conditions of a climate that we have cremated. And as they always do, the poor and the excluded will suffer the most from the damage we have caused.
In this context, the impulse to take a cheap photo of southerners on Twitter is not as dangerous as the impulse to deny climate change itself, but it is important. Every form of bias is important, perhaps especially when people who keep reporting the glare in someone else’s eye are trying to see around a board on their own.
When it comes to climate-related weather disasters, none of us are innocent. We all created this emergency. With our gasoline engines and chemically fertilized crops, our factory farms and our addiction to plastic and paper towels, we are all to blame. And if we have so far escaped the worst ravages of this volatile climate, we have to admit that it is not because of the way we vote or who we are or what we believe. It’s just luck. Just pure stupid luck. And it’s time to roll up our sleeves.
Margaret Renkl is an opinion writer covering flora, fauna, politics, and culture in the Southern United States. She is the author of the books “Late Migrations: A Natural History of Love and Loss” and the upcoming “Graceland, Well: And Other New York Times Essays”.
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