By Professor LJ Dumas for Jan McDowell

The Problem Today:

The Earth’s climate is changing. Storms are becoming much more destructive; droughts and floods are longer and stronger;  and in places where wildfires were once a problem, they are becoming a disaster. Why is this happening? Climate scientists have come to the conclusion that the planet is heating up, and that this is forcing the climate change responsible for these worsening problems.   

How It Works:

Texans should have no trouble understanding how all of this works. Every time we park our cars in the open on a bright summer’s day, the sunlight passes easily through the glass of the closed windows. Some of that light reflects off the inside of the car and passes right back out through the window glass. But some of  the light energy is converted into heat, which is trapped by the glass, and the inside of the car becomes roaring hot. So called “Greenhouse gases”, like carbon dioxide and methane that get released to the air when we burn oil, coal, and gas, trap the heat just like the car windows do .And so the earth gets hotter.

Why We Can’t Wait: 

The truth is we have learned a lot about how the climate works, but there is still a lot that we do not know. Why can’t we wait to take action against climate change until we understand more? Because we do know that, after changing very slowly for a while, global temperatures can reach a point when they suddenly start to rise much faster. When that happens, it is easy for the situation to get completely out of control. We don’t know where those turning points are. We also know from past experience that whatever we do to try to fix the environment works only very slowly.  So we must act strongly, and we must act now.

What We Should Do:

I support using less and less fossil fuel (like oil and coal) and more and more renewable energy like sunlight and wind power. Because Texas has lots of sunlight and lots of wind (and lots of windmills already in place), we are in a position to lead the nation in making this change over. Renewables will grow the Texas economy for many years to come. Other changes like using tax breaks to encourage businesses to make and  consumers to buy more energy efficient products, and helping farmers reduce the huge amount of greenhouse gases that agriculture releases into the air, will also make it easier for us to prevent climate change from threatening our future.

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