At state and federal level, there’s considerable resistance to planning for the various impacts of extreme weather events linked to climate change.
To be sure, climate change is exacerbating the impacts of events like hurricanes. While the economic toll of this year’s storms is being calculated, the U.S. Department of Energy estimated in 2013 that weather-related power outages cost the economy between $18 billion and $33 billion each year.
Yet Florida is continuing to build on its coasts, and public officials, like Gov. Rick Scott, have been hostile to accounting for rising seas and temperatures in planning.
Florida’s Department of Environmental Protection banned the terms “climate change” and “global warming” from official communications, and Scott has punted when asked about climate change.
At the federal level, the U.S. Department of Energy’s much-anticipated study on grid reliability deliberately removed language noting harm from climate change between the draft and final versions.
"Events with severe consequences are becoming more frequent and intense, due to climate change, and have been the principal contributors to an observed increase in the frequency and duration of power outages in the United States," according to the draft.
The removal of this passage stands in stark contrast to the department’s past assessments of grid vulnerability under the previous administration, like this nearly 200-page report from 2015 that found climate change will “profoundly affect the U.S. energy sector.”
That means hurricane-weary denizens of the coast will want to stock up on candles and flashlights before the next storm, because more darkness lies ahead.
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