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].

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Floodplain Maps Are Outdated.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


Climate Change Will Drive Up Energy Use in Texas and Beyond

A new study found that global energy demand could rise by as much as 58 percent in the next 30 years due to climate change. But Texas’ electric grid doesn’t exactly account for this climate impact.

Editor’s note: We’re reposting this Observer story, originally published in summer 2019, after a massive winter storm caused millions of residents in the state to lose power starting Sunday, February 14. When the summer heat peaks in Texas, the familiar hum of … Read More


Can a $2.5 Billion Bond Deal Fix Harris County’s Inequitable Flood Control?

The uneven patchwork of drainage infrastructure in Harris County means that some of Houston’s poorest neighborhoods are still waiting for basic flood protections.

When Raul bought his home in 1999, he had no way of knowing that just two years later, Tropical Storm Allison, as it inundated Houston with more than 30 inches of rain, would submerge his street in a northeastern neighborhood … Read More

Rio Grande

Whiplash Weather in the Valley Brings Fears of Flood, Drought, and Wildfires

Parts of the Rio Grande saw major flooding early this summer. But it’s not enough to stave off talk of drought.

It’s a tired Texas truism: If you don’t like the weather, wait a minute. In mid-July, morning temperatures in the Dallas-Fort Worth area fell to 67 degrees, almost breaking a record low set more than 100 years ago. Earlier this … Read More

The Okjökull glacier in the process of melting.

If a Glacier Melts in the Arctic, the Texas Coast Feels It

A Q&A with the two Rice University anthropologists who will dedicate the world’s first memorial to a glacier lost to climate change.

One of the many casualties of unchecked climate change is Arctic ice. Each year, the ice seasonally melts, but it has recently been receding faster in the summer than it can refreeze in winter. This rapid disappearance has accelerated sea … Read More