Climate change will keep hurting our communities if we don’t find solutions
Fast action is needed, and our leaders in Washington need to start advocating for new, clean infrastructure that supports our economies and the well-being of our community members.
When most people think about climate change, they think of changes in the weather pattern. And while the impact of climate change has resulted in more devastating natural disasters, it affects many more things than people realize, including the economy.
In 2021, the U.S. experienced 20 different weather and climate events that caused at least $1 billion in damages, second only to the $22 billion disasters in 2020.
All of us need a clean, sustainable environment to thrive. A worsening climate impacts our health, food, and where our families live, work and play. A region’s climate — and energy policies — can affect where investments are prioritized and who it will benefit.
More than 3 million Americans work in clean energy, and it’s among the fastest growing industries in the country. Shifting oil and gas imports in Illinois to renewable production at home will create long-term, sustainable growth in good-paying job opportunities. As a small business leader, my priority is supporting my community and local economy by advancing economic opportunities for my neighbors.
Small business leaders have a responsibility to our communities, so we need to gauge how our most vulnerable neighbors are being impacted by the increased costs driven by climate change. Today, individuals and families are struggling with limited resources, inadequate access to healthcare and housing and rising costs of living. A recent report from County Health & Roadmaps found that a more than 73% wage increase is needed for families across the country to be truly making a living wage.
When individuals are forced to live in unsustainable conditions with old infrastructure, it puts a strain on their emotional well-being and their pocketbooks. As a result, it stifles their pathway to individual success and the success of their communities. Small business leaders understand that the overall health of the community is critical to the success of our businesses and mission to create thriving local economies.
Small business leaders across the country, including in Chicago, are being forced to spend more money offsetting disruptions to supply chains and accommodating employment gaps, which hurts our competitive advantage and ability to efficiently advance economic opportunity in our communities. If our businesses fail because of the inability to compete with global businesses who prioritize profits over people, our communities and local economies will crumble.
Recent events and our changing climate have increased the cost of using existing systems that many businesses, individuals and governments depend on. This increase in volatility has steered more funds away from supporting local economies to maintaining failed systems that are simultaneously hurting our businesses and communities. Fast action is needed, and our leaders in Washington need to start advocating for new, clean infrastructure that supports our economies and the well-being of our community members.
It is time that we shift the debate and start thinking seriously about the ripple effects of climate change and whom it’s impacting right now, as well as into the future. Without acknowledging this challenge and working to solve it, business will not thrive — let alone survive.
Nathaniel Smith is CEO and founder of Blue Nova Technologies.
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