This is the time of year that many of us in the Valley start talking about the extreme summer heat and planning how we can escape, if even for a weekend.
This is also the time of year that many of us face the fact that it is getting hotter each summer and climate change is a contributing factor. However, as I talk with family and friends, I realize I think about climate change a bit differently. I think about climate change as a grandmother and from an economic point of view.
One of the reasons I love living in Arizona is the ability to live in a city with good restaurants and nearby sporting events while also being able to hike a nearby mountain or take in breathtaking scenery. I enjoy providing my grandson, who also lives in the Valley, with the opportunity to see snow in Sedona or go sledding in Flagstaff in the winter. Yet, the last few times we’ve planned a trip up north there hasn’t been snow and there’s noticeably been less people out-and-about than in years past.
Local store owners have pointed to the change in climate as a reason for a decline in visitors to the area and relate this to a decline in their business. This isn’t a good way to build appreciation for what Arizona offers nor is it good for local businesses, which means it also isn’t good for local economies.
It isn’t just certain areas in our state that have been hurt by climate change. I’ve noticed the increased frequency of traffic standstills due to fire and smoke when I visit my grandchildren, son and daughter-in-law who live in the Verde Valley. I’ve heard stories of families deterred from visiting forests or surrounding areas out of concern that there could be a fire in the places that otherwise make for a nice reprieve.
When people stay away from less populated areas, money that otherwise provides a needed cash infusion is also kept away. My family has seen these impacts where they live. I can only imagine what businesses near the Grand Canyon or other tourist hot spots experience during extreme weather.
My experience with the economic impacts of climate change span beyond my family and Arizona. For years, I have worked in collecting money owed by individuals and large corporations. Increasingly climate change is attributed at least partially for severe floods in Texas to hurricanes in Florida. There have been well-justified corporate decisions to not contact those dealing with an immediate crisis; however, when calling resumes, often individuals and businesses speak about recent struggles and are unable to pay. The problems seem to be getting worse for families and businesses.
I want my grandchildren to be able to experience Arizona as I have and local communities to thrive. Elected leaders including Gov. Ducey and U.S. Senators Sinema and Kelly need to address the urgent issue of climate change and leverage federal infrastructure assistance before it’s too late.
Editor’s note: Catherine McCaulley lives in Mesa, is a grandmother of four and a mother of three.