If you believe Gov. Rick Perry and just about every top Republican in this state, climate change is a trifling matter.It’s not caused by the emission of untold billions of tons of greenhouse gas pollution, but by natural fluctuations. Doing anything about it, they tell us, would destroy the American Way of Life and cede control to environmental fanatics eager to return humanity to Cro-Magnon days. In his new book Fed Up!, Professor Perry avers—counter to all available evidence—that the world is actually in a “cooling trend” and that global warming is “all one contrived phony mess that is falling apart under its own weight.” If Perry bothered to check with any climate scientist in this state, including the Department of Atmospheric Sciences at his alma mater Texas A&M, he would learn that there is virtual consensus among the experts that human activity is heating the planet. But Perry doesn’t listen to facts on this issue; he tries to drown them out.
Under the guise of asserting “states’ rights,” Perry and Attorney General Gregg Abbott are suing the Environmental Protection Agency in several frivolous lawsuits; two seek to stop the federal agency from regulating greenhouse gases in Texas under the Clean Air Act. Last month, Perry’s yes men at the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality announced that they would simply refuse to implement new federal regulations on major industrial sources of carbon dioxide. Every other state has agreed to cooperate.
This issue of the Observer is all about the future of Texas. Let’s add another prediction to the mix: Sometime in the not-so-distant future—when we live on a hotter, crueler and more chaotic planet, and in a state that will suffer major consquences—we will look back and wonder how we let anti-science politicians like Perry play us for fools.
The planet doesn’t give a damn about politics. The laws of physics govern climate change, not the cynical machinations of Perry and Abbott. The fact remains that a warming planet poses grave danger to Texas. Scientists predict severe water shortages, disruptions to agriculture, longer droughts followed by more intense flooding, an increase in “climate refugees” from Mexico and Central America, a rise in ocean levels large enough to swamp much of Galveston Island, and other ravages too numerous to list.
Texas, the seventh-largest emitter of greenhouse gasses in the world, is not just hurting itself. It’s hurting the whole planet. If our leaders here won’t do anything, the EPA has every right and responsibility to come in and do it for us.