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Tuesday, September 26, 2023

Local weather-Associated Hazards and the Significance of Resiliency

Are you able to keep in mind a summer season with extra disruption from excessive climate occasions than this one? Whether or not we’re staying indoors to guard ourselves from wildfire smoke, evacuating to keep away from flooding, or dropping energy because of extreme heatwaves, a lot of the nation is straight experiencing extra frequent and extra extreme local weather change impacts than ever earlier than.  The repeated tales within the information this summer season have been sobering.

The dangerous information is that we all know these occasions will proceed as local weather change accelerates. The excellent news is that motion now can nonetheless stop the worst impacts of local weather change from occurring, and far of that motion will be accelerated by the landmark Inflation Discount Act (IRA).

Following the Earth’s third-warmest Might on report, this summer season has wrought havoc because of wildfire smoke originating within the U.S. in addition to Canada and Mexico, harvests ruined by drought within the Midwest and flooding in New England, and excessive warmth that has induced a surge in emergency room visits and even deaths in southern states. For a lot of, local weather change is not one thing we solely fear about “for future generations,” it’s one thing we fear about now, for ourselves, our kids, our aged relations, and our communities.

For people, it is a second to develop into aware of preparedness and resilience assets like these on prepared.gov and within the Local weather and Well being Outlook. The primary steps in preparedness can embrace easy modifications similar to freezing containers of water to protect clear water and assist hold meals chilly if the facility goes out. If you happen to or a beloved one is struggling to entry cooling and air filtration tools or to pay for vitality prices, packages just like the Low-Revenue Residence Power Help Program and Medicaid might be able to assist. The IRA additionally supplies tax credit and rebates for a vary of house enhancements together with weatherizing home windows and doorways.

A part of preparedness is knowing upcoming climate-related hazards. You may obtain apps that may warn you to harmful situations such because the AirNow Cell App for checking air high quality info. To raised perceive the hazards that may have an effect on your space within the coming months, you’ll be able to subscribe to Workplace of Local weather Change and Well being Fairness (OCCHE) Alerts to obtain the Local weather and Well being Outlook each month, which is able to embrace month-to-month hazard forecasts for well being threats like wildfires, excessive warmth, and drought.

For well being methods and suppliers, it is a second to assume critically about how outfitted you might be to remain open and serve your group throughout climate-related disasters and excessive climate occasions. Many suppliers are resource-constrained and nonetheless struggling to take care of enough staffing following the COVID-19 pandemic. It may be tempting to consider local weather resilience as a luxurious, however as we’re already seeing, investments in preparedness are key to fulfilling well being care’s mission and defending workers. For instance, Greenwich Hospital’s mixed warmth and energy system has allowed them to keep open throughout storms, even admitting new sufferers and housing workers throughout Hurricane Sandy.

Many resilience investments are extra inexpensive than ever earlier than because of the IRA. The HHS Workplace of Local weather Change and Well being Fairness has created a Quickfinder and related webinar sequence to assist well being care organizations navigate the possibly transformative alternatives offered by the IRA’s billions of {dollars} in grants, mortgage packages, and tax credit for resilient and renewable infrastructure. The Quickfinder presents examples of well being entities which have efficiently made resilience and sustainability investments, such because the Kaiser Richmond Medical Middle’s solar-powered microgrid.

Microgrids are an important instance of how well being system local weather resilience will be funded by the IRA. Microgrids are self-sufficient vitality methods that depend on distributed vitality like mixed warmth and energy and photo voltaic. As a result of microgrids don’t depend on a central grid, they’re extra vitality environment friendly and may permit amenities to perform as “islands” throughout energy outages. The IRA’s Funding Tax Credit score (ITC) for Power Property can be utilized for renewable vitality initiatives together with microgrid controllers and is out there to tax-exempt entities by means of elective pay, which means eligible entities can obtain the complete worth of the credit score as a direct fee. The fee will be as much as 30% of the certified funding, probably growing to 50% if the entity is in a low-income group. The ITC, along with a latest Facilities for Medicare & Medicaid Companies Categorical Waiver allowing higher use of well being care microgrid methods with vitality storage for backup energy, is an unprecedented alternative for well being organizations to make main resilience investments with assured returns.

This summer season has been scary for lots of us, and harmful for too many. As you proceed to course of these occasions and think about the way to defend your loved ones and group, HHS stands with you and can proceed working to strengthen our packages and well being care methods. The occasions of the previous few months have underscored that we’ve got no time to lose.

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