Congressional meeting examines impacts of climate change

The issues at stake could threaten homeland security

FILE - In this Thursday, Jan. 31, 2013 file photo, a storm-damaged beachfront house is reflected in a pool of water in the Far Rockaways, in the Queens borough of New York. A study released in the journal Nature Communications on Tuesday, May 18, 2021, says climate change added $8 billion to the massive costs of 2012's Superstorm Sandy. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan, File)
FILE - In this Thursday, Jan. 31, 2013 file photo, a storm-damaged beachfront house is reflected in a pool of water in the Far Rockaways, in the Queens borough of New York. A study released in the journal Nature Communications on Tuesday, May 18, 2021, says climate change added $8 billion to the massive costs of 2012's Superstorm Sandy. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan, File) (Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

On Tuesday, the Congressional Subcommittee on Emergency Preparedness, Response, and Recovery, chaired by Florida Rep. Val Demings, held a virtual hearing to examine the impacts of climate change, including extreme weather, and the implications for homeland security.

This hearing was an opportunity for members to ask expert witnesses about the significant risks of climate change, and the actions the federal government, particularly the Department of Homeland Security, should take to address the challenges posed by climate change.

The hearing included a significant and thoughtful discussion of climate preparedness, and anyone who is interested in the subject should watch it in its entirety.

Science educator Bill Nye, known as The Science Guy, urged lawmakers to recognize recent examples of climate change and set regulations to reduce impacts.

Climate change impacts are no longer a threat for a distant future, according to Alice C. Hill, a David M. Rubenstein Senior Fellow for Energy and Environment, with the Council on Foreign Relations.

Last year, the U.S. suffered 22 separate extreme weather events costing over $22 billion, according to Ms. Hill. She said the country is not doing enough to safeguard the states and called for a comprehensive approach to address the issues.

Hill recommended improving risk communication to the public will help people and families plan ahead. This should include risk mapping to inform people of potential weather related threats from flooding and wildfires.

She said stronger building codes are needed in a changing climate. Only 65% of cities and towns have adopted modern building codes to account for climate risk. Every dollar spent in disaster resistant building codes equals a savings of $11 in damages.

Hill also discussed the link between climate change and migration, saying extreme weather due to climate change is a major factor driving immigrants to our southern border, creating climate refugees.

FILE - In this March 19, 2021, file photo, migrants are seen in custody at a U.S. Customs and Border Protection processing area under the Anzalduas International Bridge, in Mission, Texas. U.S. authorities say they picked up nearly 19,000 children traveling alone across the Mexican border in March. It's the largest monthly number ever recorded and a major test for President Joe Biden as he reverses many of his predecessor's hardline immigration tactics. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez, File) (ASSOCIATED PRESS)

Curtis Brown with the Virginia Department of Emergency Management, who co-founded the Institute for Diversity and Inclusion in Emergency Management, explained how heat waves impact people of color more than other populations. Brown cited research showing how higher rates of death hit people living in poverty and suggested bold actions to help those at risk in marginalized communities.


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