Gov. Greg Abbott says it is “impossible” for him know whether human-made climate change is contributing to natural disasters in Texas because he is not scientist.
Texas, fortunately, has many scientists willing to educate Abbott. On the first day of the 2019 legislative session, 26 climate scientists and experts from Texas universities offered to brief him, saying climate change contributed to Hurricane Harvey’s deadly flooding and that it’s “primarily caused by humans.”
“You know, saying ‘oh I’m not a scientist, so I can’t comment on that,’ he has access to many, many scientists who are very willing and very open to having that conversation and educating our policymakers,” Sylvia Dee, a climate scientist at Rice University, told Houston Public Media. “And all of the information, furthermore, is right there in the National Climate Assessment that just got published.”
The National Climate Assessment, which involved 13 federal agencies and more than 300 scientists, finds that the Southern Great Plains, which includes Texas, will experience higher temperatures, rising sea levels and depleted aquifers, among other dangerous results. Rising temperatures could result in an additional 1,300 deaths each year by the end of the century. Scientific evidence also strongly suggests an increase in ground-level ozone, or smog, because of warmer temperatures.
Abbott’s Commission to Rebuild Texas also concluded recently that Texas will face significant damage as sea levels rise and future storms become more intense. The commission called Hurricane Harvey a warning that should not be ignored.
“Global temperatures are measurably rising, climate and sea level change are observably happening, and it is clear that humans are primarily responsible,” said Ian Dalziel, a research professor at University of Texas at Austin’s Jackson School of Geosciences. “Without prompt action to reduce the emission of greenhouse gases, Texas and Texans will undoubtedly suffer significantly in several respects.”
Abbott can take several steps administratively, or without legislative approval. Environment Texas, a founding member of One Breath Partnership, listed several in a new report, Climate Solutions from Day One: 12 Ways Governors Can Lead on Climate Now, including setting ambitious goals for emissions reductions, clean renewable energy and electric vehicles.
Most Texans already know this and support climate action. According to the Yale Program on Climate Change Communications, 56 percent of Texans want the governor to do more to address global warming.
So what is your plan, governor? Ignoring science will only harm Texans.