For anyone who’s been paying attention to the climate crisis (and if you’ve been reading RELEVANT, that’s you) the latest study from the Environmental Protection Agency probably won’t shock you. From the loss of permafrost in Alaska to the unheard of levels of the Great Lakes’ icemelt to last summer’s heat waves, climate change has reached unprecedented levels in the U.S.
“There is no small town, city or rural community that’s unaffected by the climate crisis,” EPA Administrator Michael Regan told reporters on Wednesday. “Americans are seeing and feeling the impacts up close with increasing regularity.” See? Not shocking, but definitely depressing.
For the first time, the EPA’s report acknowledged the role of man-made activity in climate change. An interactive new website allows users to stay extra informed on how their own communities are being impacted by climate change. Many of these changes have happened so gradually that we’ve gotten used to them, like frogs in a pot of boiling water. However, the EPA warns that luxury may soon come to an end, as the effects of climate change are starting to snowball. The rapid escalation in the impact of a changing environment means current infrastructures just aren’t equipped for what’s about to come.
The EPA’s report is traditionally an annual affair, but the Trump administration had continually delayed its release while downplaying the impact of burning fossil fuels. The EPA’s website was all but dark during former President Donald Trump’s term, and the new version of the EPA under President Joe Biden remains “bare bones,” according to the Washington Post.
But the information they have gathered is staggering. The ocean is higher than it’s ever been, causing undersea heatwaves that wreak havoc on coral and fish communities. Cities like Boston are starting to allocate millions of dollars in an attempt to fortify its coasts against the rising sea. Across the country, the number of annual heat waves has tripped since the 1960s.
The EPA report doesn’t get into the future much, but it doesn’t really have to. Humankind is fumbling the divine charge to be a good steward of creation, and the toll is growing more dire by the day.