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What can Texas teach us about climate adaptation?

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Marie Maybou melts snow on the kitchen stove on Feb. 19 in Austin, Texas. Maybou was using the water to flush the toilets in her home after the city water stopped running. Winter storm Uri brought historic cold weather, causing people to lose their water as pipes broke throughout the area.

A different kind of climate adaptation — melting snow to flush toilets. Joe Raedle/Getty Images

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It was sunny and 78 in Austin, Texas, today.

“It almost feels like the climate is gaslighting us,” said Marketplace’s Andy Uhler. But “that’s not to say things are back to normal.”

Like millions of Texans, Uhler spent last week in a dark, freezing house, under an order to boil water before drinking it. His neighbors are dealing with food insecurity, frozen or burst pipes and roofs collapsed under the weight of the snowfall. The “once-in-a-lifetime” storm caused the state’s infrastructure to buckle.

Climate change is an existential crisis, and it’s already at our doorstep. And for all the money that’s gone toward trying to slow down or reverse that change, relatively little has gone toward adapting to it.

“Even if we’re very successful, and are able to keep global warming at one and a half degrees of warming, there’s still dramatic impacts that happen,” said Jay Koh, co-founder and managing director of The Lightsmith Group, a private equity firm that focuses on climate adaptation technology.

“You lose the Marshall Islands, you lose lots of different communities,” he said.

Today, we’ll talk with Koh about his work in adaptation and whether the disaster in Texas will prompt more people to look at it. Plus, how can you even have the conversation when some politicians are so quick to score political points by blaming alternative energy sources?

Later in the show, we’ll hear a heartbreaking call from a listener in Texas and a sixth grade teacher getting ready to go back to school.

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