As rescuers and local residents scoured wrecks in towns devastated by the tornado system that hit six U.S. states over the weekend, the youth-led Sunrise movement implored policymakers to âcall it what it is: a climate catastropheâ – and act on it.
âPeople’s homes have been demolished, 40,000 people are without power, and there are so many unanswered questions that the government should have solutions for,â said Rachael Fantasia, hub coordinator at Sunrise Bowling Green, a city in the United States of America. Kentucky where over 500 homes have been would have destroyed by tornadoes that killed dozens in the state.
“The greed of elites, politicians and the rich strikes the South to the heart – we find ourselves again without government support, pulling each other out of the rubble to survive,” Fantasia added. âWe ask for government help or they won’t mean anything to us – we don’t ask, we demand change. Kentucky needs to build back better now.
Described as one of the most severe tornado systems in U.S. history – with at least 36 tornadoes detected in the South and Midwest – the extreme weather has struck communities in Arkansas, Illinois, Kentucky, Missouri, Mississippi and Tennessee, leaving a confirmed death toll of nearly 100 as local authorities continue to assess the damage and attempt to map the long road to recovery.
While many factors have the potential to influence the frequency and severity of extreme weather events, scientists have argued in the wake of the tornadoes that rapidly warming temperatures likely propelled the destructive system.
âThe models we are currently using to diagnose the impacts of climate change on these extreme weather events, if any, actually underestimate the impact of climate change,â said Michael Mann, distinguished professor of atmospheric science at Penn State, in a press release. appearance on MSNBC.
âClimate change is changing the jet stream,â Mann continued, âgiving us more of these stalled weather patterns and these really big ripples in the jet stream that give us great high pressures, great lows and lows. extreme weather events. “
Even before the tornado swarm ravaged much of the country, the United States in 2021 was already on the beat for the largest billion dollars in extreme weather disasters since the records began.
âThis is going to be our new normal, and the effects that we are seeing from climate change are the crisis of our generation,â said Deanne Criswell, FEMA Trustee. noted to CNN Sunday morning. âWe will continue to work to help reduce the impacts, but we are also ready to respond to any community affected by any of these serious events. “
âWe see tornadoes in December, that part is not unusual, but at this magnitude I don’t think we’ve ever seen any this late in the year,â Criswell said. “The severity and the amount of time this tornado, or tornadoes, has spent on the ground is unprecedented.”
In addition to grassroots mutual aid efforts and the federal government’s immediate emergency response, the Sunrise movement has emphasized that sweeping climate action – including, but not limited to, funding $ 550 billion dollars for climate programs under the Democrats’ Build Back Better Act – is imperative to quickly build resilient infrastructure and reduce the carbon emissions that fuel global warming.
More than 70 people were killed last night in the worst tornado in Kentucky history – it is a climate emergency.
– Sunrise movement ð (@sunrisemvmt) December 11, 2021
“This climate catastrophe is about our elected officials who are failing us, choosing to dilute and delay climate bills instead of investing in infrastructure that will keep people safe,” said Varshini Prakash, executive director of Sunrise. âAnd this suffering comes at the expense of working families, who must make the impossible decision to work to feed their families or to flee for their lives. “
“Our politicians must fight for us,” she added. âKentucky needs direct cash payments and FEMA assistance quickly, and to everyone who needs it. BBB must be successful. This is the bare minimum. “
Greenpeace United States echoed this post on Twitter.
“Historic warm temperatures fueled the tornadoes,” the group wrote. “Our elected leaders must help these communities now and engage in real climate action.”