Ed. Note: This is the first of a two-part series how climate change affects housing affordability and efforts to address those challenges. It is part of a year-long partnership between Gambit and the Solutions Journalism Network. Part 2 will run in the July 20 issue of Gambit.

It was 117 degrees in the normally temperate Pacific Northwest late last month. A few days later, an entire town in British Columbia was nearly wiped off the map when it was hit by an eerie phenomenon known as “fire clouds” and wildfires. Not to be outdone, the Gulf of Mexico then caught on fire when a pipeline ruptured.

We’re well past the point of recognizing that climate change is not only real, but having an impact on our daily lives. Even the most well-greased petrochemical lobbyists understand this, even if it’s only when they fall asleep on beds made of money. Save for the cluster of billionaires who have the comfort of knowing they can launch themselves into outer space, the rest of us are feeling the effects in our wallets and in our homes.

“People are already paying for climate change,” says Logan Atkinson Burke, executive director of the Alliance for Affordable Energy, a consumer advocate nonprofit for utility customers.

In 2020, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reported the United States experienced a record-high 22 weather- and climate-related catastrophes, each one costing at least $1 billion — ranging from West Coast wildfires to deadly winter storms in Texas and a slew of hurricanes that pummeled the South.

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