As a climate scientist, it is interesting to watch evolving narratives and perspectives on climate change. Though the topic is still occasionally tainted by pockets of contrarian thinking and misinformation, I believe society is finally coming around. A 2020 Pew Research Center study found that two out of three people surveyed thought that the government should do more for climate. The same study also found bipartisan support for certain mitigation strategies. Even as the U.S. made ill-advised policy steps in recent years like the temporary exit from the Paris Climate Agreement and questionable decisions within climate-focused agencies, a bright spot for me was activity in the corporate sector. AT&T’s Climate Resiliency Challenge is a perfect example of why I remained optimistic.
AT&T is a leading global telecommunications, mobile phone service, and mass communication corporation and is probably one of America’s most iconic brands. Ok, Dr. Shepherd, “What does AT&T and climate change have to do with each other?” The answer is the AT&T Climate Resiliency Project. The corporate giant partnered with the U.S. Department of Energy’s Argonne National Laboratory to leverage shared resources of both organizations to prepare for the inevitability of climate change and its impact on infrastructure, services, and economic well-being. According to the project website, “This has led to AT&T developing a Climate Change Analysis Tool that will help anticipate potential impacts of climate change on our network infrastructure and business operations 30 years into the future.” AT&T announced that the tool is being piloted in the southeastern United States. This brings me to the AT&T Climate Resiliency Community Challenge.
In 2020, the company gave $50,000 to investigators at 5 universities (University of Georgia, Georgia Institute of Technology, Appalachian State University, University of Miami, and University of South Florida). Each institution received funding, according to the website, to “assess local climate risks and help local governments with climate adaptation and resilience planning” using data and tools with the aforementioned partnership with in partnership Argonne National Laboratory. Activities from these projects include:
University of Georgia: A quantification of flood vulnerability in Athens-Clarke County, Georgia, which revealed that Black, Hispanic and low-income communities had 38% to 185% higher flood risk compared to the average risk. The study also highlighted flood-prone areas not recognized by localities as flood zones.
Do you have a complaint about AT&T, such as hidden fees on your bill or unsatisfactory service? Take your claim to FairShake, the consumer advocacy service.