Can Americans Afford Climate Change Disasters?

Teresa Roberts
4 min readSep 4, 2023

Billions and Billions of Tax Dollars are Spent to Rebuild

Our world (my photo)

I hold firmly to the belief that modern societies need to constantly evolve as we attain more knowledge from scientific development. I also believe that social evolution demands and supports the moral responsibility to work toward human equality. We’ve made progress, especially in the last 100 years, but we have a long way to go.

Today’s problems demanding our attention are different from yesterday’s.

That may often be the case. However, we have one quickly growing problem that needs to be addressed as soon as possible or else we are going to continue to dramatically lose ground.

Climate change devastation is here to stay.

Each year that passes we are faced with massive destruction. Homes, businesses, forests, personal belongings, coastlines, and more are demolished by fierce weather events like floods, drought, and fires. Governors and Presidents send in the troops to recover, repair, and rebuild. That’s a good thing. And, as far as I can tell, no matter how anti-government a state may claim to be, it always welcomes the money and resources offered.

Yet I question how much longer we can afford these massive expenses.

Furthermore, does it make sense to rebuild in the same high-risk region?
As one climate disaster after another destroys a region, insurance companies are losing interest in covering those who insist on living and working there. They are pulling out of states like Texas, Florida, and California. When the big insurance CEOs acknowledged the problem, that really should’ve been a wake-up call for the entire country. After all, money talks in the United States a lot more than human suffering.

The loss of money moves people to get things done.

In my mind, there are at least two things that we need to start thinking about as we continue to respond to massive destruction in various parts of the country. Number one, we need to refuse to rebuild in areas that are high risk. This might be a hard thing to do, but not unheard of as places like Phoenix are already beginning to respond appropriately to high-risk situations.

Phoenix has issued a ban on any new building permits due to a lack of groundwater. In other words, they are stepping in to limit the growth of the city which in and of itself is fairly impressive. America has always seen growth as the ideal situation, but it’s no longer feasible in many parts of the country.

Oddly enough, some of the fastest-growing areas of the US are in the most vulnerable states, Florida, Texas, and Arizona.

Many Americans are still in denial when it comes to climate change and their wealth. When you consider that houses are often our largest personal investments, it makes no sense to deliberately buy a home in a high-risk area where it’s not only expensive to insure but often impossible.

The second thing that we need to do in preparation for the new normal is invest in more climate-change-durable infrastructures. I’m not just talking about the systems that support a city like storm drains, gas lines, bridges, roads, and water supplies. Of course, we need to upgrade, redesign, and rethink these necessary systems. They were never built to withstand the new normal.

However, I’m also talking about the materials we use to construct houses and buildings and how we design them.

We live in a different world. Climate change is no longer a talking point for the future but has arrived and most likely there is no turning back. The way we do business needs to change, too. It is time for innovation and creative ideas to take center stage.

We’ve done it before and maybe we can do it again.

We created the Industrial Revolution which called for massive innovation, creativity, hard work, determination, and all of the discomfort that comes with change. Now we need a climate change revolution. Mother Nature is forcing our hand. Just as many people felt threatened by the Industrial Revolution, we’re experiencing the same fear and resistance to the next big wave of change, comparable to the Industrial Revolution but more technologically advanced.

However, there remains a significant portion of the American population who resist the change needed and have instead chosen to scapegoat scientists, education, and knowledge, even if it kills them. The Republican party will zero in on that anger and ignorance if given the opportunity. They’re developing a plan called Project 2025 to dismantle US climate policy for the next Republican president. Even as they stand with outstretched hands to receive disaster money in disproportionate amounts in the very states that refuse to accept reality.

The stark truth is hard to hear.

Yet, we have a choice to make. Doing nothing is a choice. We can move toward a Star Trek world or refuse to change and slowly become a third-world country. We can keep throwing massive amounts of taxpayer dollars to repeatedly rebuild over and over again or we can invest that money in the change that is needed to keep our edge in the long term. It is a question of survival at this point.

Whether 21st-century societies have the intestinal fortitude to adapt in order to survive remains to be seen.

Teresa is an author and professional myth buster. You can find her books on Amazon.

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Teresa Roberts

Teresa is an author, world traveler, and professional myth buster. She’s also a top writer on climate change and the future.