February 19, 2021 – As Arctic weather brings extreme winter to the central and southern United States — across Texas, Mississippi, Oklahoma, Louisiana, and Arkansas — Black, Indigenous, immigrants, poor communities and communities of color are disproportionately bearing the brunt of this climate destruction.
“The last few days have been overwhelming, we were trying to stay afloat while also serving as a direct line of communication for people without direct access to the internet and local government updates. We are facing multiple crises within a crisis, a pandemic, a climate catastrophe, power shortage, water shortage, and food shortage,” said Nalleli Hidalgo, with T.E.J.A.S. (Texas Environmental Justice Advocacy Services). “Climate change will continue to hit coastal states like Texas the hardest, we need to invest in renewable energies and sustainable infrastructures, and create weatherized systems to prevent this from happening again.”
While Texas officials, conservative media, and fossil fuel front-groups deflect responsibility and falsely blame renewable energy, the Green New Deal, and public power, reports show that fossil fuel plant shutdowns predominantly contributed to the blackouts. Communities are recognizing this would have been avoidable if politicians invested climate adaptation, updated the power grid, and supported people over profit.
“At the moment, my family and I have power and water intermittently. Some community members have not had power or water since Valentine’s Day, and others lost these lifelines in the days following,” said Juan Parras, with T.E.J.A.S. “Many of these same households now experience below-freezing temperatures, a food shortage, broken water pipes, damage to their homes, and they are unable to make immediate repairs. Our community members suffer immensely under these extreme weather conditions, which I have often referred to as Climate Change.”
Less than four years after Hurricane Harvey, this devastating climate impact comes while millions face unemployment and the COVID-19 pandemic, with another storm on the way.
“Tejas has worked on Environmental Justice and Climate Justice for years, often working directly with fenceline communities along the Houston Ship Channel, who are mostly communities of color,” said Ana Parras, with T.E.J.A.S. “Historically marginalized communities are the first to experience the effects of a crisis, the ones that have to suffer the longest, and the last to receive aid. You see that here in communities like Manchester and Acres Homes Community that went days without power and water. “
350.org is joining with communities across the country calling for an immediate and equitable response, including the Biden administration mobilizing urgent responders to provide water filters, masks, emergency generators, resources, and services to those most impacted.
Phasing out fossil fuels and embarking on an immediate just recovery toward a transition to renewable energy is our best chance to avoid climate chaos and rebuild resilient, thriving communities in the process.