Up north, Lake Tahoe‘s water levels have plummeted to levels unseen since the tail end of the 2012-17 super-drought. Following a series of monstrous wildfires that burned their way all the way into the Tahoe Basin, local scientists and environmentalists now worry that climate change has already brought Tahoe into a dangerous new eras of mega-droughts and severe wildfire seasons that are occasionally interrupted by brief spells of extreme flooding.
Meanwhile down south, Vice President Kamala Harris returned to Southern Nevada yesterday to pitch the “Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill” and the Build Back Better reconciliation package against the backdrop of Lake Mead also hitting record low water levels… And of Democratic leaders scrambling to salvage Build Back Better amidst the most conservative Democrats’ demands for cuts to the climate programs and other social safety net programs in the package… And of the just concluded Heartland Institute’s climate denial conference that went down right here in Las Vegas.
According to the official pool report, Harris said during her visit, “The Build Back Better agenda is thoughtful and foresightful and it really is transformational in the way it will address these issues. So on the issue of the drought, the infrastructure – the bipartisan infrastructure deal – combined with the Build Back Better agenda is about what we need to do to invest in things like water recycling and reuse, what we can do in terms of water desalination, what we can do in terms of implementation of drought contingency plans.”
Harris later added, “On the issue of climate, well, the Build Back Better agenda will help us tackle the climate crisis with investments in clean energy and electric vehicles, and so we can reduce emissions. And why do we need to reduce emissions? Because that is part of what is contributing to these drought conditions. And it is critical that we as a nation understand that we have within our hands, within our possession, the ability to actually change the course of where we’re headed,”
As the core of Biden’s climate agenda faces an existential crisis, it seems eerily fitting that Harris stopped here in Nevada yesterday to witness Exhibit A of how the climate crisis hits home. If nothing else, this feels like a frustrating convergence of our climate crisis and the existential crisis in our body politic.