Arkansans will remember 2022 as a year of extreme weather.
First, we experienced heavy snowfall that pushed our power grid—and our patience—to the brink. Next, it was torrential downpours. From late June on, our state faced a blistering heat wave and unrelenting drought. Our farmers completed harvest with the Mississippi River at historically low levels, and consumers felt the pain at the grocery store checkout.
This is an Opinion
Despite critics, it’s safe to say climate change is no longer hypothetical. Extreme weather is hurting Arkansas’ economy, particularly our agricultural industry. But it’s also taking a toll on our quality of life.
Here are five takeaways from 2022 and what climate change will mean in the year ahead:
Food prices will steadily tick up. This year, grocery shopping was more painful than usual due to inflation and the rising cost of food from weather-related events and harvest disruptions. Unfortunately, the USDA’s former chief economist, Joseph Glauber, said, “things could get worse before they get better.” Under the “worst-case scenario,” the United Nations predicts global food prices will increase another 8.5% by 2027.
Energy will become more expensive. Extreme weather means colder winters and hotter summers. In response, we blast the heat and air-conditioning, which drives up our bills. It helps our discomfort in the short term, but the EPA says our increased use “could also lead to more greenhouse gas emissions and further climate change.” The EPA says the bright side is that energy-efficiency improvements may “influence residential consumption and demand for energy over time.”
We’ll be forced indoors. Data consistently shows that climate change increases the frequency and duration of extreme weather. So, what do we do? Shelter indoors. The Washington Post said it best: “childhood will never be the same.” We can’t play outside, socialize or partake in outdoor activities and exercise we used to take for granted.
We’ll see more insurance claims. Climate change is making storms stronger, which causes more damage to our homes and properties. As a result, Fox News reports we are now seeing “massive increases in insurance policies, less coverage availability or outright cancellations,” particularly for Americans living in disaster-prone areas.
More Arkansans will call for change. Whether urging legislators to include additional conservation funding in the 2023 Farm Bill or adopting energy-efficiency measures like solar, more Arkansans are taking the threat of extreme weather seriously and deciding to act.
Here's to a more moderate 2023.