Climate Change

West Texas landscape
Julia Reihs / KUT

Texas is no stranger to droughts. From the bone-dry stretch of the 1950s, the state’s longest drought, to the fiery months of 2011, the state’s single driest year, droughts have shaped Texas' culture and economy.

But, according to the state climatologist of Texas, we ain’t seen nothing yet.

Gabriel C. Pérez/KUT

From Texas Standard:

Carbon emissions have been down in recent weeks because of the pandemic because far fewer people are driving or flying. But that has also meant less demand for fuel, and less revenue for oil and gas companies. As a result, some European-based companies are investing more of their resources into renewable energy production. But American oil and gas outfits are not.

Bluebonnets and other wildflowers dot the landscape near I-35 earlier this month.
Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

Bats in December. Bluebonnets in January. Butterflies in February. These are a few of the unseasonal appearances Austinites noticed this warm winter. And, experts say, people should get used to such sights.

Gage Skidmor/Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA)

From Texas Standard:

Businessman Tom Steyer is among the eight remaining candidates seeking the Democratic presidential nomination. With early voting beginning Feb. 18 in Texas, Steyer is turning his attention to the Lone Star State, and to the other states with Super Tuesday primaries on March 3.

Gabriel Cristover Perez/Texas Standard

From Texas Standard:

With six major flooding events and disaster declarations in each of the past five years, Houston is facing a new normal when it comes to risk from a changing environment. Now, the city is looking to create what Mayor Sylvester Turner calls a "resilient city" with a new, 186-page master plan.

A person's sweaty forward
Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

Last year was the world’s second-warmest year on record, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and NASA. And the Austin area was not immune to the warming trends.

An oil rig outside Midland, Texas.
Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

The head of the Texas Oil and Gas Association said Tuesday his group agrees fossil fuels contribute to global warming and that the industry will find ways to reduce emissions.

Report: Gulf Coast Coral Likely To Face Widespread Destruction By The End Of The Century

Dec 26, 2019
Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary

Without a significant reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, coral reefs throughout the Gulf of Mexico are likely to face widespread bleaching and collapse by the end of the century, according to a new report from several research universities.

A male house finch
Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

Bird and nature enthusiasts have volunteered to count and identify as many species of birds as possible within certain areas across North America between Dec. 14 and Jan. 5.

A judge has handed Exxon Mobil a victory in only the second climate change lawsuit to reach trial in the United States. The decision was a blow for the New York Attorney General's Office, which brought the case.

Justice Barry Ostrager of the New York State Supreme Court said that the attorney general failed to prove that the oil giant broke the law.

Bernadette Demientieff hails from a region marked by pristine panoramas, droves of Arctic wildlife and decades of controversy. For millennia, her people, the native Gwich'in Nation, have guarded the precious swath of Alaskan land today known by many as the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

This year Thom Hawkins is missing his fourth family Thanksgiving back home in Minnesota, by choice.

The 82-year-old lives in Glendale, Calif., and hasn't visited his extended family of nieces, nephews and cousins since September 2016. That's when he decided he couldn't fly anymore because of environmental concerns. Ever since, he has missed weddings, birthdays and graduations, and he expects to miss funerals.

A house is flooded in Houston after Hurricane Harvey.
Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon / KUT

About 2% of U.S. homes are at risk of being flooded by the end of the century, thanks to rising sea levels. And the reason for rising sea levels, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, is climate change. But flood risk is not translating into lower property values in some areas along the coast.

William Munoz/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

From Texas Standard:

Texan, and former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson testified Wednesday in a Manhattan courtroom, where New York prosecutors are seeking to prove that Exxon Mobil lied to investors about the costs the company faced because of climate change. Tillerson is Exxon Mobil's former CEO.

Sandra Dahdah

From Texas Standard:

Water nourishes us. But it also forms borders between geographic regions, and has even become responsible for migration, as individuals and families make decisions about where to live based on the availability of this critical resource. In Texas Standard's series, "Drop by Drop," reporter Joy Diaz set out to learn how water affects politics, migration, the environment and economics. Diaz says she was motivated to produce the series by the growing importance of water in cross-border issues.

Julia Reihs/KUT

Low levels of toxic blue-green algae are still present in Lady Bird Lake. According to the Watershed Protection Department, which takes samples from the lake biweekly, there needs to be consistently cool temperatures and increased water flow before any major changes happen. 

Cars drive down East Seventh Street as the sun sets.
Julia Reihs / KUT

Austin is among 30 cities worldwide where emissions have peaked, according to a new analysis from a coalition of cities dedicated to reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

Mention the year 2011 to any Austinite who lived here then, and expect to get an earful. It was the hottest year recorded in Austin's history – so hot and so dry that living through it has become a kind of shared trauma for many.

LASA teacher David Walker looks out over the North Slope in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.
Karl Romanowicz

The Arctic is warming faster than any other place on Earth. Twice as fast.

That’s not easy to grasp when you’re thousands of miles away. But over the summer, one Austin high school teacher went to see it firsthand.

A man with his dog sitting at the intersection of Airport and I-35.
Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

There was a time when it seemed like summer could have gone differently: A wet spring and relatively mild June had us thinking maybe this year wouldn’t be so bad.

Boy, that didn’t last long. 

Parkside students Levi King, Savvy Horne-Lalande and Gabriel Guerrero hold signs demanding action on climate change.
Julia Reihs / KUT

Austin students rallied at the state Capitol today to raise awareness of the climate crisis as part of an international youth climate strike. Organizers said they expect millions of people to take part in rallies around the world, ahead of the United Nations Climate Action Summit in December.

Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

In Washington, D.C., on Thursday, the Environmental Protection Agency announced plans for a major rollback of rules aimed at reducing methane emissions from oil and gas infrastructure. In Texas, environmentalists and even some in the industry are arguing in favor of keeping the rules.

Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

This July is on track to be Earth’s hottest month ever recorded, and that spike in heat is part of a larger warming trend that could change the way governments and researchers measure extreme temperatures.

People across southern Louisiana are spending the weekend worried about flooding. The water is coming from every direction: the Mississippi River is swollen with rain that fell weeks ago farther north, and a storm called Barry is pushing ocean water onshore while it drops more rain from above.

It's a situation driven by climate change, and one that Louisiana has never dealt with, at least in recorded history. And it's raising questions about whether New Orleans and other communities are prepared for such an onslaught.

Wind turbines
Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon / KUT

The 2019 legislative session saw fights over renewable energy, climate resilience and pipeline construction. Now that the dust is settling on the field of battle, what do the results tell us about Texas lawmakers' priorities for energy and the environment?

Caroline Covington/Texas Standard

From Texas Standard:

Energy is the invisible driver of nearly everything we do. It gets us to work, lights our homes – it even powers the equipment we use to broadcast Texas Standard. Energy – and access to it – determines the wealth, health and growth of societies. Michael Webber explores how energy has shaped civilization in his new book “Power Trip: The Story Of Energy.

Webber says he became interested in the topic during an undergraduate history class at the University of Texas at Austin.

Up to 1 million of the estimated 8 million plant and animal species on Earth are at risk of extinction — many of them within decades — according to scientists and researchers who produced a sweeping U.N. report on how humanity's burgeoning growth is putting the world's biodiversity at perilous risk.

The Texas Vertebrate Paleontology Collection
Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

This is a story about 10-million-year-old bones. But it starts in the 1930s.

KUT

From Texas Standard:

A new study shows Texas homeowners along the Gulf Coast have lost tens of millions of dollars of property value over a 12-year period ending in 2017 due to rising sea levels. The hardest hit city has been Galveston, followed by three other cities within 40 miles: Jamaica Beach, Bolivar Peninsula and Surfside Beach.

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon / KUT

Wind power in Texas is often seen as one of the state’s great success stories. It’s grown so much in the last 20 years that the state now leads the country in the amount of electricity it generates from wind. Experts say that’s brought the price of electricity down and helped reduce air pollution.

But wind is facing a lot of opposition this year at the Texas Capitol. The fight centers around subsidies and incentives that have helped grow the industry here.

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