You have probably heard about what’s been happening in Texas this past week, but if you haven’t, let me fill you in. On Valentine’s Day, a huge winter storm hit the country, bringing snow and subfreezing temperatures to southern states, many of whom do not have the infrastructure to deal with winter weather. The worst one hit was Texas, as all 254 of the state’s counties were under a winter weather advisory for the first time in history.
The storm has left millions without power, hot water, cell service, or food for days, and has even cost lives. Why was Texas so unprepared? How could 30 degree weather end in such a tragedy for one state when it's considered a normal temperature for so many others? The simplest answer is their independent power grid. Texas is the only state that runs its own power grid completely separate from the rest of the country, so they can avoid federal regulation. When the temperatures plunged, the grid could not handle the excessive demand as people turned up their heat. The plan was to put two hour rolling blackouts into place to prevent overstraining the grid, but somehow these two hour blackouts lasted for days on end in some Texas cities. While families and businesses had no heat or light for hours on end in subfreezing temperatures, downtown Austin and Houston were perfectly lit up. This ended in cases of hypothermia and even death. The long term effects of the storm on Texas’s energy infrastructure will be drastic and inevitably signal a need for change.
Not only does Texas need to completely reimagine their infrastructure to prepare for situations like these, but this is a wake up call for the whole country. Erratic weather patterns like this recent storm are a sign of climate change. We are already in the middle of a climate emergency; it is too late for prevention. We must invest into alternative energy sources and energy-saving infrastructure before it is too late. Texas politicians have already failed their constituents and now blame comprehensive solutions to the climate crisis, like the Green New Deal, that haven’t even been implemented yet. It is time to stop playing politics and ignoring the warning signs of this impending disaster. Failing to prepare will cost us money and will cost us even more American lives.