It’s nearly Earth Day here in the United States. Much of the writing and commentary about climate change you hear from sources like UN Dispatch or other globally focused writers and publications tend to focus on the dramatic effects of climate change in the developing world. We focus on things like the expanding Sahara desert; sinking small island countries; or unreliable rains, which leads to drought, which leads to famine and conflict.
But climate change is a universal phenomenon. It is not just something that happens over there. It happens here, too! Perhaps the most dramatic example of climate change affecting the health, wealth and prosperity of a rich country is the epic drought in some parts of the United States, particularly the South West and South East.
Look at this map. Darker colors = Worse drought.
NPR has done an excellent job reporting on the drought crisis, particularly as it affects Texas. I encourage people to check out their page and play with some of the interactive features. Some numbers that stand out to me: there’s been $7.62 billion in agriculture losses; $3.23 billion in cattle sector losses; $2.2 billion in cotton production damage in Texas. In total we, are talking about $13 billion in economic damage from this drought. For comparison, that’s about the GDP of Iceland.
Perhaps its time that lawmakers in the United States realize that climate change does not just affect other people in other parts of the world, but is causing problems here at home. And, having made that leap, commit the United States to policies that can limit the harmful effects of climate change.