To the Editor:
Climate change will have irrevocable effects on our infrastructure, especially here in the Pacific Northwest. Oregonians experienced record-breaking temperatures that warped buildings, railways and roads during the recent heatwave. A large portion of Oregonians went without cool air during the heat event. According to the 2018 American Housing Survey, 59% of the state’s population does not have central air-conditioning, while 11,995 individuals experience homelessness (March 2021). This means that over half the state is vulnerable to extreme heat.
In his encyclical, Laudato Si’, Pope Francis calls on governmental law to be one of the first actions to cope with climate change and protect the common good. He states that regulatory systems exist to “promote best practice, to stimulate creativity in seeking new solutions and to encourage individual or group initiatives (177).”
The Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill proposed a $2.3 trillion investment meant to radically improve the country’s infrastructure to better meet the needs of U.S. citizens and mitigate damages from inevitable climate changes. The bill passed with only a $1 trillion agreement, cutting out necessary improvements, such as much of the replacement of lead pipes and financing cleaner energies, buildings and transportation systems.
Oregon, it is on us to hold our politicians accountable. We must answer Pope Francis’ call to protect the common good by ensuring that our representatives fight for funds that provide equitable infrastructure across the nation, provide cleaner energy, and build more environmentally sound cities and means of transportation for all people.