Politicization of climate change is detrimental, need to implement long-term solutions like rebuilding energy infrastructure


Leah Tan

As brutal winter storms settle, the issue of the Texas blackouts have become less prevalent in the news, but the actual situation is far from becoming “less prevalent.” Rather, the blackouts have only highlighted a larger issue in America that needs to be tackled.
After the blackouts began, Gov. Greg Abbott immediately took to Fox News and blamed the use of renewable energy. Soon after, many were repeating the same claim that Texas’ reliance on wind energy was the sole cause of such devastation, consequently using it to support their pro-fossil fuel stances.
In reality, however, the halt of wind power was insignificant: according to the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, wind energy only makes up 7% of Texas’s entire power supply. The larger issue instead was in the failure of the power grid system, highlighting the flaws in America’s energy infrastructure.
So no, simply put, renewable energy isn’t “less reliable” than non-renewable sources. Yet, the consequences of such a narrative being thrown around has prevented actual long-term solutions from being implemented and only further politicized the issue of climate change. No longer is climate change treated with the bipartisan attention it needs.
According to an analysis by Climate Central, major outages in the United States have more than doubled over the past decade and the trend doesn’t show any signs of stopping. The culprit? Our outdated energy infrastructure.
The American Society of Civil Engineers rated our energy infrastructure a D+ in 2017, saying most of the infrastructure is exceeding its 50-year life expectancy, but change has yet to happen. According to Forbes, as much as $2 trillion of investment would be needed to finance the modernization of our energy grid, which is why many politicians hesitate to take action, but America can’t afford to stall anymore. I guarantee the cost will be absolutely worth it.
Upgrading our infrastructure would not only help us avoid many of the devastating blackouts by rebuilding it to withstand more extreme conditions, but would also enhance and encourage our use of renewable energy. In order to use the energy collected on solar panels, for example, we must have infrastructure that can store it in milliseconds to prevent it from being lost.
Unfortunately, our current grid is incapable of processing such clean energy efficiently, but with modernized infrastructure, we can do just this, encouraging the use of cleaner energy and mitigating the impacts of climate change.
It’s time for the United States to stop tiptoeing around the issue of climate change. Natural disasters are only going to get worse from here and long-term fixes are the only way to stop it, starting with rebuilding our energy infrastructure.

Click here to see more of Leah Tan’s work.