A forecast for failure

While over 7 million Texans boiled water and bundled in layers during last week’s winter storm, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz hopped on a plane to catch some sunshine during an untimely trip to Cancún. 

Photos of Cruz and his family leaving for Mexico were plastered all over social media and left both his allies and opponents appalled at his actions. 

He staged photos with his daughters while the Texas power grid went dark, leaving the Lone Star State without any electricity in the wake of an historic winter storm. According to the Associated Press, as of Feb. 23, 80 people have died in Texas alone due to this destructive climate event.

For years, Cruz has dismissed climate change, yet when his state was faced with disastrous weather, he packed his bags for a sunnier location. 

Last week in Texas, due to the ongoing lack of response to climate change, lives were lost. 

This is not the time for government employees to ignore these issues or go on vacation. 

Our country is not prepared for weather events of the magnitude seen last week in Texas. The situation Texans have endured goes beyond a natural disaster – it is the manmade result of the lack of climate change policies from state and federal governments. 

The challenges of severe weather such as what was experienced in Texas last week are the result of climate change. This is the reason our government needs to be investing in bettering our country’s infrastructure as it currently cannot withstand the weather conditions produced by climate change and undoubtedly, this will lead to even more devastating effects in the future. 

Texas’ power grid failures happened because its power plants were not built to withstand freezing temperatures, leading to frozen natural gas lines. 

According to The New York Times, wind turbines froze and nuclear and coal power plants were disrupted because of a similar lack of preparation. During this storm, controlled power outages were requested in order to prevent long-term damage to the power grid. 

The storm that disrupted the Texas power grid was not an isolated incident. Weather disasters of this scale have been on the rise during the 21st century, and they revealed massive deficiencies in our nation’s infrastructure.

It is a question of when, not if, the next big storm, fire, or flood will strike – and where it will endanger American lives. We must prepare our country’s infrastructure for nature’s wrath.

Many politicians ignored blaring alarms signaling climate change. Now, they are neglecting the needs of their constituents suffering from a double punch of the devastating impacts of environmental change and inadequate critical infrastructure to protect them from it.

What our country needs now more than ever is bipartisan support for funding to fix the nation’s failing infrastructure. Our power grids, transportation systems, water management systems, and many more networks require repairs or replacement before an emergency occurs, not after.

Updated infrastructure will save money for service providers in the long run, avoiding emergency repairs made during dangerous environmental events as well as payouts to customers for interrupted services.

Repaired infrastructure will save money for governments over time, preventing the need to provide as much emergency disaster relief. If fewer people lose services, more resources can be concentrated where they are needed most.

Improved infrastructure will save lives by keeping the lights on, the heat running, and the water flowing during severe weather events. Repaired transportation networks will ensure evacuation routes are available when needed.

Investing in our country’s infrastructure now will prevent future disasters such as what happened in Texas last week. 

As the old idiom goes, an ounce of damage prevention is easier to fund than a pound of disaster response.