Our local community is suffering directly because of global warming – and it’s going to get worse. Soon.
A new report released last week by leading climate scientists from around the world finds that oceans are heating even faster than feared. This has grave implications for fish and food sources, and for long-range weather patterns in Central Texas and across the world.
Even now, a few of our neighbors still doubt the climate is changing, despite overwhelming scientific evidence accumulated over decades. Hundreds, perhaps thousands, of studies, reports, tests and research efforts come to the same conclusion: the earth is warming dramatically, and the most likely cause is us – humans.
Approximately 93 percent of experts in the field agree. The issue is no longer up for serious debate.
Yet out of stubbornness and political expediency, Republicans in our state government refuse to allow state-funded scientists to talk honestly and openly about the problem, or to work on direct fixes. Nationally, President Trump has pulled out of international efforts to address the problem and is weakening what were once bi-partisan laws intended to slow the damage. Two of the three congressmen who represent parts of Hays County — Roger Williams and Chip Roy — are eager to ignore the science, conveniently allowing them to defer hard choices that some constituents won’t like, effectively leaving a growing problem to future generations, even at a time where scientists say every moment counts.
It’s like trying to ignore math. The danger is multiplying, whether we like it or not, whether we admit it or not.
Look at it this way. If nine out of 10 doctors recommended surgery to save your child’s life, would you have the surgery, even if there was no guarantee? If nine out of 10 auto-mechanics said the brakes on your car were worn and highly dangerous, would you give that car – unfixed – to your teenaged niece for a long trip because you’d rather spend the money on a fancy dinner?
Often, we think of climate change as something that might create a few extra 100-degree days here and there, but as something that won’t really affect us in Hays County the way it will in, say, Miami, where parts of the city already experience frequent flooding from rising seas.
Truth is we will be affected in innumerable ways, in business, government, and the family. Some changes may be good (milder winters anyone?). Many are potentially horrifying.
Insects, viruses, birds, deer will be affected in both worrying and unpredictable ways as we become more tropical. The strain to air condition and water our communities in the summer will increase.
Everything from building roads to repairing metal roofs to planting tomatoes will require new levels of planning as 110-degree temperatures in the summer become routine. And then there are the mega-storms: bigger, fiercer, more frequent. We live in an amazing part of the country, where ecosystems and geographic systems meet. But there’s a downside. We are prone to drought, and to deadly flash-floods. Both are likely to get worse.
That will endanger lives, agriculture, recreation, travel and tourism. It will affect thousands of property owners, raise the cost of housing and roadways, hike insurance rates, and reduce property values as floodways expand and floodplains become more unpredictable. It’s already happening.
We’re smart and resilient in Texas. We’re tough and inventive in this part of it. We can fight climate change. We can adapt.
But we can’t fix the problem if we let “leaders” pretend it doesn’t exist. And we can’t afford to pretend, any longer, that doing nothing, just for our own convenience, and then bequeathing a worsening mess to our children and our children’s children, is anything but a sin.