26
Jul
09

Global Warming, Texas Style

Texas Drought

Temperatures are soaring this summer in Texas, driving record-breaking drought.

According to the Associated Press, “San Antonio, which relies on the Edwards Aquifer for its water, is enduring its driest 23-month period since weather data was recorded starting in 1885, according to the National Weather Service.”

“In the bone-dry San Antonio-Austin area, the conditions that started in 2007 are being compared to the devastating drought of the 1950s. There have been 36 days of 100 degrees or more this year in an area where it’s usually closer to 12.”

While not every extreme weather event can be linked to climate change, the science of climate change and extreme weather such as heatwaves and drought is now firmly established, and it is disturbingly similar to the context for other social risks such as smoking or heart disease. Not every case of lung cancer can be linked to tobacco, but when a smoker dies of cancer the cost of smoking is grimly highlighted.

The irony in this drought is thicker than dry river mud. Texan George W. Bush infamously stonewalled any effort to advance climate protection for almost a decade. And now the state’s two federal senators are firmly in the “no” column on climate legislation working its way through Congress this summer.

While conservative commentators focus on the costs of investing in low-carbon energy to secure climate protection, they are blind to the benefits.

Throughout U.S. history, government policy has played a key role in driving the economy by setting the table for technological innovation, from the development of the railroads, through the evolution of the pharmaceutical industry and up to today’s internet built by DARPA.

Texas is host to some of the best wind energy resources in the United States, a resource base that would be developed into a multi-billion dollar industry if we could stop burning fossil fuels with abandon and get onto a low-carbon energy path.  But apparently some Texans would rather fry in hell today in order to avoid going down that road tomorrow.

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