Wildland firefighters in action. Photo by Alex Starr, used with permission

By Nicolle Berroa, age 13 and IndyKids Staff

Winter Storm Uri hit Texas in February and caught everyone off guard. The unusually bitter cold weather put a massive strain on energy demand and available electricity as the infrastructure around natural gas, coal, nuclear and wind energy froze up. 

Climate change has a profound economic cost in the United States and abroad because of the recovery expenses associated with worsening natural disasters. Failing infrastructure and property damage due to extreme weather conditions, wildfires, excessive rainfall, drought and rising sea levels will continue to put a huge strain on our economy. According to investment banking company Morgan Stanley, climate disasters cost North America $415 billion between 2016 and 2019.

Wildfires in the western United States last year cost insurers almost $13 billion, researchers from Risk Management Solutions (RMS), a U.S.-based risk management company, found. “There is growing evidence that extreme weather events related to climate change are on the rise—droughts, wildfires, hurricanes, and heat waves are all becoming more common,” said Federal Reserve governor Lael Brainard in a press release.

In order to tackle this growing economic strain, changes must be made. A recent study conducted by the American Chemical Society found that southeastern states alone will need 35% more electric capacity by 2050 simply to deal with the known dangers of climate change. In an interview with the New York Times, Emily Grubert, an infrastructure expert at Georgia Tech, explains that this “is going to be very costly.”