As the mercury rises, so does the death toll. The planet has just survived one of the deadliest heat waves in recorded history, and we’re not even talking about 2023’s blistering statistics yet. The story isn’t just about the record-breaking heat, but about the disturbing rise in heat-related fatalities over the last decade. These numbers are set to rise even further, potentially breaking records, according to the data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Heat-related deaths in the U.S. have nearly doubled between 2010 and 2022, an alarming fact that underscores the urgent need for immediate and decisive action against climate change. Yet, as the planet swelters, the Republican party appears to be more interested in the oil industry’s profits than the well-being of the Earth’s inhabitants.
According to environmental health professor Gregory Wellenius from Boston University, 2023 could be one of the years with the most heat-related deaths in recent memory. It’s a grim picture, one where the risk of heat exhaustion, dehydration, and even new food or waterborne illnesses increases as bacteria thrive in warmer conditions.
July’s heatwave across the U.S., southern Europe, and northern Mexico would have been “virtually impossible” without the climate crisis and the continued burning of fossil fuels. Still, despite these dire warning signs, Senate Republicans are focusing their energy on protecting the fossil fuel industry and stripping back climate and environmental initiatives.
In a dubious letter to Michael Regan, head of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), 39 Senate Republicans, including Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, claimed that the agency’s new plan to propose stricter limits on power plant’s greenhouse gas emissions was an overreach of authority.
They base their argument on a fringe right-wing legal theory, known as the “major questions doctrine,” which has been scrutinized by legal experts. While unlikely to change the EPA’s approach, the letter is a clear signal of the party’s intention to dismantle existing U.S. climate policy if a Republican president gains power.
To add to this bleak scenario, the Heritage Foundation, a right-wing think tank, has a 1,000-page plan called Project 2025. The plan, if implemented, aims to dismantle almost all sectors of the federal government, including climate and environment-related agencies and policies, concentrating power into the presidential office.
Alarmingly, the GOP seems to be actively paving the way for Project 2025. All this, as the new EPA plan is poised to play a significant role in the Biden administration’s goal of cutting emissions by half by 2030, compared to 2005 levels — a critical objective, given that climate change may be accelerating faster than anticipated.
Unfortunately, it seems that the GOP’s priority lies not with preserving life on Earth, but with consolidating power and wealth among themselves and their allies. The clock is ticking, and it’s high time we turn up the heat on those who are dragging their feet on climate action.