by Minnie Payne
Texans have been hearing
for many years that our state’s climate is changing for the worse. According to
an August 2016 U.S. Environmental Protection Agency report, most of Texas has warmed
between one-half and one degree Fahrenheit in the past century. Yet, many allow
this to fall on deaf ears.
A Santa Cruz,
California-based solar panel company, Sandbar Solar, recently did a survey that
shows a lack of knowledge about climate change exists. Fifty-eight percent of
people were not knowledgeable that, among other things, the use of fossil
fuels, deforestation and agricultural activities, cause global warming.
Forty-four percent think that the climate is warming because of recurrent
weather patterns. Seven percent think the sun is getting hotter. Another 7 percent
think the Earth is moving closer to the sun. Sad news, indeed, knowing that
environmentalists are making a concerted effort to spread the truth.
In Texas, a few things
that are happening under our noses that a great many people take for granted. In
Texas’ eastern two-thirds, even with increased rainfall, the soil is becoming
drier. Rainstorms are more intense and flooding more severe. In coming decades,
storms will likely be more severe, deserts may expand and farmers will face
increasingly hot/dry, causing agriculture problems. Some people may possibly suffer
health problems due to this.
Our Earth is warming,
therefore, the climate is changing. Since the late 1700s, we have increased carbon
dioxide in the air by 40 percent. Other greenhouse gases are also increasing,
warming the surface and lower atmosphere about one degree over the past 50
years. On our coasts and otherwise, we experience increased humidity, average
rainfall and heavy rainstorms as evaporation increases and the atmosphere warm.
Drought also affects some areas.
Visitors to our beaches see
that sea levels are rapidly rising. Climate change and groundwater pumping
cause sinking. If oceans and atmosphere continue to warm, sea level might
possibly rise two to five feet in the next century.
Wetlands and dry land will
submerge, beaches will erode, coastal flooding will worsen and many dependent
birds and fish will suffer. Public access to beaches and tourism will be
Coastal homeowners and
businesses know that for the past 20 years, tropical storms and hurricanes have
caused massive repair and cleanup. Warming oceans cause high waves to lash out while
scientists scratch their heads as to whether or not the intensification will be
long-term. Nonetheless, it looks as if hurricane wind speeds and rainfall rates
will increase as our climate temperature continues to climb.
Not only will more
powerful storms cause flooding, but sea levels will rise as storm surges become
higher. Coastal homeowners and businesses will see their insurance deductibles
increase. Cities, transportation systems and coastal oil/gas facilities are
vulnerable, causing people to relocate; possibly creating some climate change
The changing climate will
likely increase inland flooding, as well. The last 50 years in the Great Plains
shows that rainfall during the wettest four days of the year increased about 15
percent, which will likely increase and cause more flooding.
Water will become less
available. Warmer temperatures increase evaporation, causing vegetation/soil
problems. All seasons will see less rainfall. Research shows that 70 years from
now, the longest period without rain annually is likely to be at least three
days longer than today. Both increased evaporation and decreased rainfall
reduce the average flow of rivers and streams.
The 14 percent of Texas
farmers that irrigate crops won’t have sufficient water. Panhandle and to-the-south
plains farmers know that most irrigation water is groundwater from the High
Plains Aquifer System, which is becoming depleted. Since the 1950s, stored
water in the aquifer has declined by more than 50 percent in certain areas of
Texas. These are just a few perils that face us because of climate change.
information about climate change, global warming, how they affect our health
and why we should care about it, tune in to Healthy Living Healthy Planet Radio
from 3 to 4 p.m. Saturdays, beginning October 5 on iHeart Radio, KXFR 1190 AM,
streaming simultaneously on the iHeart Radio App. A podcast will be available
is a Texas-based freelance writer and contributing writer to Natural Awakenings
magazines and other green living publications.