Texas Deep Freeze Is a Reminder That Bad Weather Is Getting Worse

Earth and environment scientist talks about the trouble we should have seen coming and what could lie ahead

Cutler Cleveland says Texas grid planners elevated cheap electricity above planning priorities and deliberately ignored repeated warnings that the grid was highly vulnerable to extreme weather. Photo by Brett Coomer/Houston Chronicle via AP
Satellite images of Houston: Before the storm, February 7 (left); after the storm, February 16 (right). The larger dark patches in the post-storm image indicate areas without electricity. Credit: NASA Earth Observatory

BU Today: In the past year, we have seen energy grid crashes in California and Texas, with extreme weather being the primary cause in both cases. How do we know that these weather extremes are caused by climate change, and if we can’t prevent climate change, what should we be doing to prepare our energy grid for more extreme weather?

Some observers have blamed Texas’ grid failures on frozen wind turbines. How much blame should be aimed at renewable energy sources?

A view of the Bobcat Fire in the San Gabriel Mountains, taken from the kitchen window of a Monrovia, Calif., home on September 10, 2020. Credit: Eddiem360/Wikimedia Commons

What do these catastrophic events tell us about our investments in infrastructure and disaster preparedness?

How do regional political and cultural attitudes play into this scenario? Do you think the response to this weather event would be different in a region with a different attitude?

Cutting-edge research and commentary out of Boston University, home to Nobel laureates, Pulitzer winners and Guggenheim Scholars. Find an expert: bu.edu/experts

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