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 hampered.
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 refugees.
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.
For more 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 at HealthyLivingHealthyPlanetRadio.com.
Minnie Payne is a Texas-based freelance writer and contributing writer to Natural Awakenings magazines and other green living publications.
For more stories like this read Natural Awakenings Dallas-Ft Worth magazine at NADallas.com