Texas snowstorm leaves millions in dangerous living conditions


Hunter Berube

Suffolk Climate Watch graphic

A winter snowstorm has swept across the South, causing more than 5 million people to lose power. Many have been left in below freezing temperatures and dangerous living conditions, including having no running water or gas.

The state of Texas has its own power grid, which carries energy, converts it to electricity and delivers it to consumers. According to Chron, the power grid was specifically designed to work with predictable seasonal shifts of weather.

Experts say states like Texas are unprepared for climate emergencies such as wildfires, droughts, freezing temperatures in cooler regions and floods. According to CBS News, events such as this are examples of a warming atmosphere.

“We’re seeing the consequences of insufficiently considering climate impact on the grid,” said Julie McNamara, senior energy analyst at the Union of Concerned Scientists, to CBS News.  

With millions fallen victim to the Texas power grid, many are without food and water, according to MSN. Additionally, many homes are flooding and with icy roads, it’s difficult for people to flee the area. 

Research by Climate Central highlights that extreme weather events have increased power outages by 67% in the U.S. since 2000. 

While many understand the flaws of the power grid system, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott and other Republicans are blaming this issue on renewable energy sources such as solar and wind power. According to CNN, this event has many Texas Republicans believing fossil fuels are needed.

However, renewable energy sources are not the issue. 

Fossil fuels do contribute to this crisis, but scientists believe this extreme cold is linked to the rapid warming that is taking place in the Arctic. According to CNBC, disturbances to the polar vortex can be a contributing factor.

“Climate change and global warming are not just a wave of warmth in January, or a chilly day in July- they could also be a hotter summer than usual or a colder winter- hence the weather we are experiencing in Texas,” said Donna Montgomery, president of the Graduate Student Association. 

The polar vortex is a region of cold air and low pressure which surrounds the North and South poles. When it faces any disruption, it is capable of sending cold Arctic air to Asia, Europe and North America. 

President Joe Biden’s administration has blamed these freezing temperatures on climate change and is looking to sign a disaster declaration for the state, according to MSN

“We need to plan better for the increased variability we expect to see under climate change,” said Michael Craig, professor at the University of Michigan’s School for Environment and Sustainability, to CNBC.