|Floods caused chaos in Dallas: Photo credit:
By Anders Lorenzen
Texas, which in energy terms is known as the home of Big Oil and in climate terms for it skepticism towards human induced climate change, has been hit by unprecedented floods that have so far claimed the lives of 22 people.
Throughout May, 37.3 trillion gallons of water fell across the state, making it the wettest month Texas has ever experienced—enough to cover the entire state with eight inches of water. The downpour brought many rivers to breaking points, swallowed cars, flooded homes, brought down infrastructure, as well as trees and power lines, and covered oil rigs in water.
Cities didn’t escape either, with Dallas becoming submerged overnight last week after more heavy rain fell on an already saturated area causing thousands of motorists to become stranded.
In the wake of the floods, President Barack Obama signed a disaster declaration (Friday), while Governor Greg Abbott declared 70 counties disaster areas. No costs have yet been designated to this extreme weather disaster, but Obama has said that he expects a request to be made to the White House for financial help.
Neighboring Oklahoma was also severely hit by the floods as well as tornadoes though, thankfully, with less loss of life.
As with any extreme weather event, the link to climate change has been made—with the rhetoric that you can’t link a specific weather event to climate change, but certainly the increase in such events. Professor Jeffrey Sachs, director of the Earth Institute at Columbia University, made this link when pressed on the issue by news channel MSNBC. He added that the biosphere is responding to our unsustainable burning of fossil fuels and the planetary boundaries that we are entering.
However, Governor Greg Abbott and Senator Ted Cruz have refused to link the events with climate change, focusing exclusively on relief efforts, which climate scientists Katharine Hayhoe has condemned. “As a scientist, I think it is essential to connect the dots between climate change and the increasing risk it poses to our families and communities,” she told Think Progress. Ted Cruz is among the leading Republican climate skeptics.
This latest, serious, extreme weather event to hit the US will no doubt reignite the debate on whether the US is doing enough to prepare for the effects of climate change, and if the path to reduce its reliance on fossil fuels and invest in renewables is happening fast enough.
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