Just about everything in Texas is extra large (or so the reputation goes) including its weather. When you mix in climate change it’s a recipe for calamity. It doesn’t help that all of the state’s considerable water front is along the Gulf of Mexico, a place seasonally fraught with hurricanes. As if that isn’t bad enough, Texas governor Greg Abbott, senior senator John Cronyn and junior Senator Ted Cruz are all loathsome climate science deniers. Of course they are. They’re Republicans.
So don’t mess with Texas, it’s got more than its share of problems already. Climate scientist Katharine Hayhoe, one of the state’s most prominent residents, has this to say: “We are already the most vulnerable state in the country due to these extreme weather disasters. And then we have climate change loading the dice against us.”
The dice loading doesn’t stop there. The state’s governor and its two senators are particularly dangerous thanks to their extraordinary lack of empathy. Recall that in February of 2021, when many of the Texas elderly were freezing to death thanks to appallingly bad energy planning and a complete lack of fuel reserves, Ted Cruz went swanning off to Cancun, Mexico. He lied and said he was merely escorting his daughter there. But the truth was he was taking a holiday because he didn’t give a crap about his constituents.
Oh and by the way, a year and a half later and Cruz still hasn’t lifted a finger about the disastrous energy situation in Texas. Just as he hasn’t done doodly squat about unlocked doors in elementary schools after bitterly pretending it was the real cause of the tragic Uvalde shooting — where 19 students and two teachers were murdered. Ted is all talk and no do.
Then there’s governor Greg Abbott. Last month after a “1-in-1,000-year” storm dumped up to 15 inches of rain in Dallas, triggering flash floods that submerged vehicles and left at least one person dead, Abbott said that the state is prepared to handle “extreme weather.” No it isn’t. And he never mentioned a single word about climate change. Not once.
And of course, John Cronyn joined Ted Cruz and other Republicans in voting against President Biden’s Inflation Reduction Act, a bill that was not only designed to help ordinary citizens with inflation, but also allocated an unprecedented amount of money to fight climate change. The bill passed anyway, 51 to 50, no thanks to those two, unempathetic Texas Republicans.
But the climate problems in Texas aren’t all the fault of humans, they’re just made much worse by them. All lakes in Texas are man made because of the flat configuration of the state. That is why the water situation is so precarious. Also, the vast flatness causes a massive high pressure zone that builds up and retreats to the middle of the state and wards off storms during the Texas summer. Then when it finally dissipates, massive rain storms come rushing in to replace it. This causes a cycle of drought and flooding that gets worse and worse in a feedback loop of disaster — thanks to climate change — every single year.
Texas politicians are doing practically nothing to help while they continue to spread the fully discredited lie that man made climate change is a hoax. Texas is in trouble and Texas Republicans refuse to warn their constituents. It is a cycle of ignorance — another deadly feedback loop — that ultimately serves no one.
The only way out of this nightmare is to replace Texas Republicans with climate change-believing Democrats. That could happen soon. For example, Governor Greg Abbott’s lead in the polls over challenger Beto O’Rourke is shrinking rapidly, and he has agreed to debate O’Rourke on 30 September as a result. He may find that to be a mistake. Beto is much smarter than Abbott and he thinks more quickly under pressure. Above all, Beto has the advantage of being right — he’s backed by facts and science.
For the future of the planet and American democracy, let’s hope Beto wins. And let’s hope that Texas gets its act together soon before it’s too late. And, as ever, ladies and gentlemen, brothers and sisters, comrades and friends, stay safe.
Robert Harrington is an American expat living in Britain. He is a portrait painter.