ASU expert calls for infrastructure transition to keep up with climate change

President Biden described climate change as an "existential threat" but did not declare a national emergency.
Published: Jul. 21, 2022 at 11:55 AM MST|Updated: Jul. 21, 2022 at 11:57 AM MST
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PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) - Temperatures are climbing, and President Biden is calling it an “existential threat” as countries across the globe are being forced to reckon with climate change.

“For the first time, states will be able to use federal funds to pay for air conditioners in homes, set up community cooling centers in schools where people can get through these extreme heat crises,” President Biden said. “And I mean, people -- crises are at 100 to 117 degrees.” He specifically addressed Arizona in his speech, citing our triple-digit temperatures and the cross-country need for cooling centers.

Arizona State University’s School of Sustainability director Diane Pataki said that she thinks the key to staying one step ahead is an infrastructure overhaul. “Well, we are definitely feeling the effects of climate change. Not just the heat but the drought is also an impact we think is going to accelerate. We have to come up with sustainable solutions for water,” Pataki said. “We need policy, including federal policy, and we need investments. So, these multibillion dollar investments are going to be key, because we need to transition our infrastructure to be able to cope with extreme events.”

What can the average person do in addressing climate change issues? While you can conserve energy and water, Pataki offers this advice: get involved in local government. “Voting in really, really local elections, like the city council elections, the commissioner elections,” she said. “Actually, a lot of the key decisions are made at that level. For example, are we going to have more EV chargers in the Phoenix area.”