Spotted at the Capitol: Acknowledgment of Climate Change

Spotted at the Capitol: Acknowledgment of Climate Change

Like the sound of a golden-cheeked warbler (ter-wih-zeee-e-e-e, chy), something rare was heard today at the Capitol: the science of climate change. Or more specifically, the intersection of global warming and drought. The occasion was a joint hearing of the Natural Resources Committees, which convened this morning to kick-off debate over Texas’ water woes. State Climatologist John Nielsen-Gammon recapped the sobering facts of our present (and future) drought.

Bottom line: “The year 2011 was about as bad as it gets for agriculture. But it’s these multi-year droughts that strain water supplies. And there’s still a good chance this could end up being the drought of record for most of the state. Nonetheless this is Texas and a few very wet months might be all it takes to turn the immediate situation around.”

Following Nielsen-Gammon’s presentation, state Rep. Trey Martinez Fischer (D-San Antonio) asked the climatologist about the correlation between climate change and the current drought.

“At present the climate records in the state indicate an overall increase of total rainfall which may or may not be climate change related. The triggering factor of El Niño and La Niña, we don’t know how that will change because of climate change. The only factor related to the drought that can be clearly related to climate change is the change in temperature. The state temperature has increased on average about 2 degrees Fahrenheit since the 1970s. … That aspect of the drought is being made worse by climate change.”

No other follow-up questions were asked. And, so, climate change was not so much discussed as briefly heard. But that’s still an improvement over the usual cone of silence.