Texas license plate under snow

Texans feel the chill as President Biden sets people to work

When you think of Texas, there’s a good chance you think of the wide expanse of arid land, the great mesas and the stories of the Wild West.

During a typical year, Texan weather oscillates between mildly cold winters and hot, humid summers. If you’ve been watching developments across the pond lately, you’ll know 2021 got off to anything but a typical start.

A corridor of cold weather descended from the Arctic in recent days, causing temperatures to plunge in Texas, the southernmost state in the US. Normally, the Jet Stream keeps the polar vortex, a large area of cold air, within the confines of the Arctic Circle.

In the past week or so, however, it is possible that the Jet Stream weakened, allowing the polar vortex to spill out and move south. The resulting chill that descended over Texas led to temperatures to drop to -13 degrees celsius in Austin, Texas. This breaks a record for the lowest temperature for the city, previously set in 1909.

Green power gets the blame

If you hoped that the end of the Trump presidency meant the end to fake news and party-political games, the big freeze in Texas will leave you disappointed. Plunging temperatures disrupted power lines for millions of Texans in recent days, exposing the vulnerabilities of the state’s energy supplies. You would hope that policy makers would agree on the causes, and work together to find a solution.

Federal regulators warned officials about the risk of a significant cold snap disrupting power back in 2011, when a less significant freeze hit the state. However, such warnings went unheeded, leaving Texans literally open to the mercy of the elements. To make matters worse, politicians representing the state are now falsely asserting that the green agenda is to blame for the disruption to power.

Republican Texas Governor Greg Abbott appeared on Fox News, claiming that solar and wind power had been responsible for blackouts, while disparaging the idea of the Green New Deal, as proposed by Democrats. However, Texas is a state still predominantly powered by oil and gas, conveyed via pipelines which froze when the cold weather hit.

Better insulation of pipes and other recommendations made in 2011 could be the solution to stop another big freeze knocking Texans off the grid, while a more diverse and greener energy mix could reduce dependence on fuels which are more easily disrupted by cold weather, such as oil and gas.

President Biden sets Americans to work

As Texas recovers from its deep freeze, during the midst of a once-in-a-century pandemic, the United States faces a broader problem: returning millions of displaced American jobseekers back into full employment.

At the height of the pandemic, US unemployment spiked to 14.8 per cent, and hundreds of thousands of Americans continue to be laid off. To prevent a health crisis mutating into an economic crisis, the Biden administration unveiled an executive order, calling for the creation of a Civilian Climate Corps Initiative.

This new initiative is expected to put thousands of Americans to work, helping conserve the natural environment, restoring public land and waters, replanting forests, protecting biodiversity and other green activities. During these times of unprecedented upheaval, policy makers have the choice to fall back on old ways of doing things, or take active measures to ensure we recover in a greener way.

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