Amal Ahmed

Amal Ahmed is a general assignment reporter at the Texas Observer. Originally from Dallas, she has a journalism degree from Northwestern University and previously worked at The Atlantic and Texas Monthly. You can contact her at [email protected].

Sediments in the Gulf of Mexico that can cause algae blooms.

Climate Change Will Make Harmful Algae Blooms in Texas Waterways More Common

Blue-green algae exists in almost all of the state’s waterways. Once it starts to bloom, it’s hard to get rid of it.

Cyanobacteria are one of the oldest known life forms on earth. Better known as blue-green algae, the photosynthetic microorganism occurs naturally in almost all waterways around the world. The algae itself is relatively benign. But when it mixes with runoff … Read More

Beto O'Rourke, Julian Castro
Texas Politics

Texas’ Presidential Candidates Break Out Briefly During the Democratic Debate

But it’s probably not enough to challenge the frontrunners.

by Amal Ahmed, Gus Bova, and Andrea Valdez September 13, 2019 The third Democratic presidential debate and all its attendant hullabaloo stampeded into Texas Thursday night. It was a historic night for Texas Southern University, the historically black university in … Read More

prairie grasses

How Texas Prairies Could Help Combat Climate Change

Native grasslands once covered most of Texas, acting as an important carbon sink. Which is why restoring the land to prairie is increasingly important in the face of climate change.

The Amazon rainforest has been burning particularly intensely this year—so much so that the smoke from the fires obscures the last hours of daylight in São Paulo. While forest fires aren’t unusual in this heavily wooded region of Brazil, many … Read More


Julián Castro’s Climate Plan Addresses Environmental Racism

Other candidates focus on broad policies that affect everyone. That’s undeniably good, but it elides that fact that environmental injustices have historically hurt poor, minority communities the most.

At Wednesday night’s climate crisis town hall with the 2020 Democratic presidential candidates, a nurse from Brooklyn asked former San Antonio Mayor Julián Castro what his administration would do to address environmental racism. Castro reminded the audience that his first … Read More

This photo taken in 2015, shows a flare-up at an oil processing plant outside Cuero, Texas in 2015. Researchers from the University of Southern California and San Francisco State University are using satellites to see how much flaring occurs in the region, in addition to data provided by the oil and gas industry. The researchers have counted 43,887 distinct oil and gas flares in the region from 2012 to 2016.

The Environmental Protection Agency Wants to Repeal its Methane Emissions Limits

Texas, the nation’s largest oil and gas producer, doesn’t otherwise regulate the potent greenhouse gas.

When it comes to climate change, what happens in Texas—the nation’s top oil and gas producer—increasingly doesn’t stay in Texas. The Lone Star state accounts for nearly a third of the country’s refining capacity and emits more greenhouse gasses than … Read More

Flood victim Florentina Amaya, 71, looks at the mold growing inside her home in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey, Tuesday, Sept. 5, 2017, in Houston.

In Houston, Thousands Continue to Wait for Harvey Relief Money

More than 4,500 households have applied for city assistance, but fewer than two dozen applicants have been approved.

Two years ago, Hurricane Harvey made landfall in Southeast Texas, eventually parking over the Houston area, where it dumped an historic 60 inches of rain. The Category 4 storm became the second-costliest hurricane in U.S. history, tucked only behind Hurricane … Read More

Flooding in Port Arthur during Hurricane Harvey.

Floodplain Maps Are Outdated. This Scientist Wants to Change That.

More than half of FEMA’s flood maps rely on decades-old data. Now, a group of Texas researchers is tackling the problem with a $3 million grant and crowdsourced data.

Talk to any scientist long enough, and eventually they’ll bring up an old aphorism: all models are wrong, but some are useful. Even with better data, and more sophisticated tools to collect it, there’s no truly perfect way to capture … Read More

Cars travel along a highway with the skyline of downtown Houston in the background.

More Highways, More Problems

Highway expansion is the Lone Star State’s status-quo solution to easing traffic—but it actually leads to more congestion and displaced communities.

Bruce Elementary School sits in the shadow of one of Houston’s countless towering, concrete overpasses. From the playground, the sound of cars zooming past and heavy-duty trucks heading to Interstate 45 drowns out the voices of community advocates. Dozens of … Read More