Whether Texas lawmakers want to admit it or not, they are already planning for the effects of climate change.
Much of Texas has suffered a prolonged drought that has drained reservoirs to some of their lowest levels — this year could be even worst. The situation is so dire that the GOP-led Texas House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed a long-term “rainy day” fund that invests in water infrastructure to prepare for the more frequent droughts in coming decades, although they did not acknowledge the connection to climate change.
ClimateWire reports on the initial funding of the plan from the Texas Water Development Board (TWDB):
To a round of applause, 146 state legislators approved H.B. 4, which would finance a new fund to begin investing in new infrastructure and other projects by dipping into the state’s so-called rainy day fund. The $2 billion that would be taken from the rainy day fund for the water plan is just a down payment toward TWDB’s call for some $53 billion in spending over the next 40 years, $27 billion of which is expected to come directly from the state government.
Texas is one of many states to face the brunt of hotter, drier weather. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) says Texas droughts are now 20 times more likely than they were in the 1960s. In 2011, a Texas climatologist described the drought as once in “maybe 500 or 1,000 years.” But “one more year and we’re already talking about a drought more severe than anything we’ve ever had.”
Higher temperatures driven by climate change worsen the drought cycle, and once the ground is dry, temperatures soar higher.
NOAA’s latest map shows how drought covers now virtually the entire state:
The Texas legislature, packed with climate-deniers, did not make any mention of what fuels the state’s predicament. But their move shows that drought and a hotter climate is a new reality for even the most conservative policymakers.