What Will It Take to Wake Us Up?

The early snow here in Bozeman, Montana may make the smoke and heat of summer seem a distant memory. But lest we forget, July 2021 was the hottest month ever recorded — 115 degrees in Portland, 112 in Missoula, 100 in Anchorage. But it could be the coolest July in the next 100 years.

Severe weather is extremely expensive. Heat waves, hurricanes, drought, wildfires, floods, and megastorms — all supercharged by climate change — cost the US $99 billion in 2020 (the costliest year yet), and 2021 is on track for similar losses. This does not even account for the loss of life caused by climate chaos.

Climate disasters are much more common than 40 years ago. The United States suffered 22 multi-billion-dollar weather disasters in 2020 — up from an average of 7 such disasters annually in the 1980s.

What will it take to wake us up? How many weather disasters will we see in 20 or 30 years? When will one destroy your town, your home?

The 2021 UN Intergovernment Panel on Climate Change 6th Assessment makes clear the link between greenhouse gasses from fossil fuels and extreme weather. Unless we get off fossil fuels very soon we can expect even more loss, more severe weather, more floods fires hurricanes and superstorms.

Gov. Gianforte, Sen. Daines and Rep. Rosendale, meanwhile, would have you believe that climate change is a hoax. Dream on.

President Biden’s Build Back Better agenda is expensive too. But it moves us toward a sustainable future. Without serious long-term investment in wind, solar, electric and other energy sources, we are dooming ourselves and our descendants to an extremely bleak and hot future.

Phil Knight is an environmental activist in Bozeman, Montana. He is a board member of the Gallatin-Yellowstone Wilderness Alliance.