How the National Wildlife Federation is rebuilding better in Birmingham

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Rébéca Villegas

As communities across the country grapple with and prepare for the impacts of climate change, members of Congress are currently negotiating important pieces of legislation, through the Build Back Better program, which could bring much-needed relief to communities like Birmingham. Severe weather events, including hurricanes and floods, have worsened due to the impacts of climate change, which have created “unnatural disasters” never seen before, according to the National Wildlife Federation. The Federation has documented several of these unnatural disasters occurring across the United States to shed light on the challenges facing wildlife and humans today.

According to the National Ocean and Atmospheric Association (NOAA), last year was the fifth year in a row with an above-normal Atlantic hurricane season. In other words, in 2020 we experienced the most storms on record and almost reached the highest number of hurricanes ever recorded in US history. And as the Earth continues to warm, we’ll continue to see even more unnatural disasters happening in communities across the country, including Birmingham.

According to the Climate Impact Lab, Birmingham is expected to see an increase, on average, in annual temperatures that could adversely affect agriculture and agricultural production. In addition to experiencing more severe storms that can lead to hurricanes and flash floods, rising temperatures can trigger extreme heat waves for longer periods of time, causing forest fires and droughts.

Unboxing the Build Back Better program

The Build Back Better program is a series of policies that, if properly implemented, could provide cities like Birmingham with the tools and resources to prepare for non-natural disasters. As it stands, Congress is renegotiating a plan for reconciliation, the Build Back Better Act, which includes major investments that could restore our natural systems, make clean energy technologies more accessible for people, and protect communities against climate-induced disasters. while creating millions of jobs. The bill includes increased monitoring of toxic air pollution in frontline communities; solar projects that serve low-income households; and investments in healthy ports, non-polluting heavy vehicles, affordable housing, climate resilience, etc.

The Build Back Better Act also includes historic investments to reduce the costs of child care, higher education, prescription drugs and health care. In addition, funds have been earmarked for the creation of a Civilian Climate Corps, which has the capacity to put millions of young people to work to revitalize our communities and restore our habitats to ensure the protection of wildlife and people.

The best part about the agenda is that it gets fully paid! According to the Biden administration, the reconciliation program will be primarily funded by reforming corporate and international taxes and increasing taxes on the highest incomes (for example, families earning more than $ 400,000 per year). ). In other words, making the rich pay their fair share of taxes.

At present, negotiations are still underway in Washington, DC in hopes of adopting the Build Back Better program. To learn more and stay up to date with conversations, visit https://www.whitehouse.gov/build-back-better/.

Community announcements

To stay up to date with the latest emergency weather events in Birmingham, sign up for alerts through the Jefferson County EMA and the City of Birmingham Warning System. You will receive urgent messages where and how you want, including alerts about your home, mobile or work phones, email address, text messages, and more. To register, please visit https://member.everbridge.net/453003085611901/login.

Additionally, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has changed its flood insurance rates, effective October 1, 2021. FEMA recently incorporated a new pricing method that can reduce the cost of flooding. flood insurance for predetermined residents. For more information, please visit https://www.fema.gov/flood-insurance/risk-rating.

Simone Lightfoot is Associate Vice President of Environmental Justice and Climate Justice for the National Wildlife Federation. She oversees the organization’s granting efforts in Birmingham and can be reached at 313.585.1052 or lightfoots@nwf.org


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