We too are hoping and praying for the drought to end in Texas. But we better listen to science, too.
Texas has been bone dry for months, and the record droughts have resulted in severe wildfires that have already burned over 1.8 million acres and destroyed over 200 homes this year.
Last week, in the face of this crisis, climate science-denying governor Rick Perry issued an official proclamation for "Days of Prayer for Rain in Texas."
Which is itself totally fine and understandable. I'm sure that my religious friends and family would offer their prayers as well. And, hey, maybe it worked to some degree: last night there were some intense thunderstorms that tore through the region. Unfortunately, NOAA's meteorological models are pointing towards worse conditions over the next couple of months, with the drought persisting or intensifying through June.
The biggest trouble is, Governor Perry has long been an outspoken denier of the climate science consensus.
As Brian Merchant notes on Treehugger:
Unfortunately, Gov. Perry won't acknowledge the vast body of scientific evidence that supports the fact that the climate is warming, and man is primarily to blame. His official position is that he doesn't think climate change is a problem. And he actively works to prevent climate action in his state, and has orchestrated Texas' lawsuit against the EPA for trying to enforce the Clean Air Act. His main aim is to prevent the agency from regulating greenhouse gases.\n
As we must always note in these short-term weather events, none of them can be 100 percent attributed to climate change. But climate change undeniably "loads the dice" for these sorts of extreme weather events. A couple of climatologists make local connection in this McClatchy article.
“By now, most people get that you can’t attribute any single weather event on global warming,” said John Nielsen-Gammon, the Texas state climatologist and a professor at Texas A&M University...Most climate models — projections of future conditions from supercomputers processing huge amounts of data — say Texas will get less rainfall as global temperatures keep rising.
Climate scientist Katharine Hayhoe, a research associate professor at Texas Tech University in Lubbock, agrees, and says that trends in Texas are emerging:
“Here in West Texas, our rainfall’s getting more variable,” said Hayhoe, a specialist in modelling climate change across regions. “It’s either feast or famine. It’s either really dry or it’s really wet. We’re not getting a lot in the middle.”\n
Prayer is all well and good. But listening to the warnings and forecasts of scientists is essential.