Texas Congressman Denies Climate Change While Texans Seek More Action On Global Warming

Sunflower solar panels, Austin TX

Last week, San Antonio Congressman Lamar Smith took a break from Washington’s budget battles to weigh in on the latest assessment report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). In his Texas Weekly guest column, Congressman Smith cast doubt on the link between global warming and extreme weather and criticized efforts to curb greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs), cherry-picking passages of the report to support his own arguments.

Let’s look at what the report really says. Based on mountains of evidence and an unprecedented scientific consensus from hundreds of the world’s best climate scientists, the IPCC finds that “warming of the climate system is unequivocal,” and “human influence on the climate system is clear.” Furthermore, the report settles that human influence has very likely affected frequency and intensity of daily temperature extremes and likely doubled the probability of heat waves. The report further predicts that extreme heat will only get worse from here, concluding it is very likely that heat waves will occur with a higher frequency and duration in the future. Sounds like extreme weather to me.

When you contrast these findings with Texas’ recent streak of scorching summers, it’s easy to understand why a majority of Texans say they have personally experienced the effects of global warming. Extreme temperatures, since 2010, have helped plunge the state into a historic, multi-year drought, which is expected to be the new norm. Both the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and independent climate scientists, including Texas A&M’s atmospheric sciences department, have attributed Texas’ historic 2011 heat wave and drought primarily to climate change.

Despite this evidence, Congressman Smith insists that those linking climate change to extreme weather are just “[drumming] up support for costly, unnecessary regulation and subsidies.” He casts doubt on the very concept of global warming, claiming “nearly every major temperature record shows that global temperatures have held steady for the last 15 years.” However, Congressman Smith conveniently ignores the scientists again. IPCC’s report shows that 1983–2012 was likely the warmest 30-year period of the last 1400 years.

For too long, Texas politicians like Congressman Smith have ignored the science of climate change because of political agendas. But the tides are turning and momentum to accept the science is growing. Currently, more than half of Texans say more should be done about global warming at all levels of government.

Texans get it. It’s time for our elected leaders to stop casting false doubt on climate science and do something to craft a policy solution that protects Texans from the dangers of climate change and promotes the continued growth of the state’s clean energy economy.

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