The US weather is taking the country somewhere. Less food, more traffic accidents, and extreme weather conditions are hitting nuclear waste sites, migrants are rushing to the United States, fleeing even worse calamities in their own country.
These scenarios, once dystopian sci-fi stuff, are now driving American politics. Under President Biden’s orders, senior officials from each government agency have spent months examining the main climate threats their agencies face and how to address them.
On Thursday, the White House offered a first glimpse of the results, releasing the climate adaptation plans of 23 agencies, including the ministries of Energy, Defense, Agriculture, Homeland Security, Transport, and Commerce. Biden’s focus is on racial equity, examining the effects of climate change on minority and low-income communities and how agencies can address it. For example, the Department of Health and Human Services said it would focus research presents on the health effects of these currency communities.
The Department of Agriculture lists ways in which climate change threatens America’s food supply: changes in temperature and precipitation, more pests and diseases, reduced soil quality, fewer insect pollinators, and more storms and fires will combine to reduce crops and livestock.
To meet these challenges, the department calls for more research on climate threats and better communication of these results to farmers.
The plan is also sincere about the limits of what can be done. In response to drought, for example, farmers can build new irrigation systems and governments can build new dams. But irrigation is expensive, notes the department, and dams affect the ecosystems around them.
Climate change also threatens Americans’ ability to move between cities, limiting not only mobility but the movement of goods, which could boost the economy Temperatures make the construction and maintenance of roads and bridges more expensive.
And the experience on the go becomes slower and more frustrating. Since the asphalt breaks on hot days, the traffic will increase as the traffic decreases. Severe weather events “require flights to be canceled, sometimes for extended periods of time” and will increase the heat, forcing aircraft to travel shorter distances and to carry less weight.
Some of the impacts predicted by the Department of Transportation are dangerous. These include “more frequent / heavier flooding of underground tunnels” and “increased risk of accidents in bad weather”.
The ride quality can also deteriorate. The plan warns of “a decrease in driver/operator performance and decision-making ability due to driver fatigue due to adverse weather conditions”.
Sometimes plans show how much work is left. For example, the Department of Energy said it had only assessed climate risks for half of its sites as part of the program, from state-of-the-art research laboratories to radioactive waste storage facilities. ”
“The DOE’s nuclear safety mission is essential to national security and is also mainly conducted at DOE sites that are exposed to extreme weather conditions,” the ministry’s plan reads. “The DOE’s environmental mission could also be impaired if the treatment and disposal facilities for radioactive waste were affected by climate hazards.
The department says it can deal with this threat but doesn’t go into details. “The DOE has established a risk assessment and adjustment process with a focus on its high-risk nuclear facilities. This process ensures that the most critical systems are well protected from climate hazards,”the plan says.
For the Department of Homeland Security, climate change poses the risk of large numbers of climate refugees: people who arrive at the United States border and are displaced from their countries by a combination of long-term challenges such as droughts or sudden shocks Tsunami.
“Climate change is likely to increase population movements in Mexico, Central America, South America, and the Caribbean,” says the department’s plan. The department is trying to develop “a responsive and coordinated action plan for mass migration incidents”. He said.
The plan comes just weeks after President Biden sentenced mounted border guards for treating Haitian migrants crossing the Texas border. The government was then criticized for returning many of these migrants to Haiti, which is still only struggling with the environmental challenges outlined in the plan.
The Department does not say how to react in the future as more and more people are fleeing to the US, other than that it will “focus on national security and balanced and equitable outcomes”.
Climate change brings new sources of conflict and also complicates the functioning of the military, wrote the Ministry of Defense in its climate plan.
Water scarcity could even become a new area of conflict in the USA. S. Military personnel abroad and in the countries in which the troops are located. At Department of Defense sites outside the United States, “the military’s water needs could compete with local water needs, creating potential points of friction or even conflict.”
But learning to act in extreme weather conditions must also be seen, according to the Plan, as a new type of weapon that can help the United States defeat its enemies. “This enables the US armed forces to gain significant advantages over potential adversaries,” says the plan, “if our armed forces can operate in conditions in which others must seek refuge or land.”
Not all climate threats posed by the federal government are insurmountable.
The Department of Commerce, which administers the United States Patent and Trade Office, has said that as the impacts of climate change increase, it expects patent applications for “technologies for adapting to climate change” to grow.
There is at least one solution to this challenge. The department said patent applications can be pushed forward or, as the plan states, “take turns being examined at the time of filing.”