Dr. Katharine Hayhoe, Director, Texas Tech Climate Science Center
Dr. Katharine Hayhoe: Texan’s don’t care about climate change. This state will live and die on fossil fuels, right? There are more SUVs and trucks here than you can shake a stick at. And if you ask people here if humans are changing climate, most people would say no.
So, what don’t you know about Texas, climate change, and clean energy? Well first of all, Texas is the number one producer of carbon pollution in the United States. If Texas were its own country, it would be the seventh largest emitter in the world. Here’s the thing, though. Energy is energy, and Texans understand energy better than nearly anyone else in the world.
Let’s talk wind. Texas is already the national leader in wind energy. These days, you can barely drive south from Lubbock without running into a new wind farm going up. One day last December, it was so windy here that our turbines generated a full 40% of the state’s power for 17 hours.
Now let’s talk sun. If a huge solar field were installed in a 150-by-150 square mile area, somewhere between Lubbock and Amarillo, just for example, it could provide enough energy to power the entire United States.
Some may, though, why should we care about climate change here in Texas? Our weather is already crazy enough. From 1980 to 2015, we were hit by more billion-dollar weather and climate disasters than anywhere else in America. Tornadoes, ice storms and haboobs, wind storms, heat waves and hurricanes, the blizzards, droughts and floods. We get it all. Climate change is loading the dice against us.
I’m incredibly encouraged by all of the individual cities and businesses that are already taking action on their own. There’s the City of Georgetown, north of Austin, that made news in March 2015 when they announced that all the power in their city would be coming from renewable sources. In July 2015, Facebook broke ground on a giant data center in Fort Worth to be powered entirely by renewable energy from a new 200 megawatt wind farm in Clay County.
Climate change isn’t just an economic challenge. It represents a great economic opportunity to wean ourselves off our old and dirty ways of getting energy and to replace those with clean, renewable energy sources that we can grow right here at home.
There’s a growing commitment to investing in our future, a future that just so happens to be building a more resilient society, and a new, clean energy economy at the same time.