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As the planet continues to warm, President Joe Biden issued an executive order in January asking 23 federal agencies to prepare reports identifying the prime threats of climate change and how they plan to respond to the issue.
The report elaborated on how climate change will reach people’s everyday life from where they live, what they eat, and how they get to work. The agencies releasing climate adaptation plans include the Departments of Agriculture, Education, Transportation, Homeland Security, and Defense. The report will also outline the solutions of educating employees about climate change and investing in more resilient infrastructure to ensure new buildings and facilities have eco-friendly and sustainable designs.
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, temperature changes, increasing floods, droughts, pests, and diseases will affect America’s food supply. In addition, the Department of Housing and Urban Development cautioned that inexpensive housing is at risk from extreme weather and sea-level rise.
Because of climate change, more people will be vulnerable to deadly heat and floodwaters, and their exposure to certain infections surged, reports Health and Human Services Department.
The report was the first glimpse at the impact of the climate crisis since the Obama administration. The government research into climate change stopped under President Donald Trump since he does not believe in the reality of human-caused global warming.
In August, the United Nations released an alarming report warning the global community to cut fossil fuel emissions or face catastrophic consequences. The U.S. was then recovering from its hottest summer on record this year.
Biden promised to make climate crisis a top priority when he took office. However, some activists and Democrats say he has not responded with urgency. Advocates spoke about their concern that it could be watered down or cut from the final plans.
During the 2018-19 school year, millions of students in California were affected by school closings due to the wildfires. Additionally, students missed an average of 78 days of school in Puerto Rico due to hurricanes.
The 2016 West Virginia flood has estimated damage of $130 million to neighboring schools. Around 6,300 schools nationwide are assisting 4 million students in flood-prone areas.
As temperatures increase, the Transportation Department warned that asphalt roads degrade and air travel could be limited. Moreover, widespread flight cancellations for extended periods can arise due to significant weather events. The report includes a section on climate equity that lists goals in mitigating the impacts of poor air quality, heat, vector-borne disease, and other effects of climate change when designing projects.
In the opening statement of the Defense report, Secretary Lloyd Austin wrote that climate change is a destabilizing force that compelled the evacuation of the military bases.
According to the Department of Homeland Security, severe storms and droughts in Central America, Mexico, and the Caribbean could escalate legal and illegal population movements across the borders of the United States. In addition, the report warns that high temperatures can change disease patterns and put the public, plants, and animals at higher risk of illness.
Each agency emphasized the risk of climate change and highlighted the need to prioritize vulnerable populations.
Biden will travel to Glasgow, Scotland, in November to attend the annual U.N. Climate Change Conference. He will meet with world leaders about the goals update they signed in the 2015 Paris climate agreement.
Written by Janet Grace Ortigas
Edited by Cathy Milne-Ware
NBC News: Biden administration releases alarming reports on climate change challenges; By Lauren Egan
USA Today: Irreversible changes, warmer temperatures sooner: 5 alarming findings from the UN climate change report; Ryan W. Miller
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