Water-Gate: Texas State Report on Dealing With Current and Future Drought Never Mentions Climate Change
Can a state devastated by its most severe hot-weather drought on record actually release a water-planning report on the future of drought in Texas that never mentions global warming? Sadly, the answer is yes in the case of ‘The Impact of the 2011 Drought and Beyond,’ by Susan Combs, Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts.
Texas A&M University, professor of atmospheric sciences, Dr. Andrew Dessler, writes me:
‘This report is consistent with the Texas State Government’s position of ‘See no climate change, hear no climate change, speak no climate change.’ The report goes out of its way to try to suggest that the recent drought was entirely due to natural cycles, but that is an untenable scientific position. Given how much carbon we’ve loaded into the atmosphere, the question is not whether humans are affecting the Texas weather, but exactly how. I’m sorry the report let politics trump science.’
The state has already worked to censor efforts to inform citizens on its coast of the impact of warming-driven sea level rise — see Flood-Gate: Perry Officials Try to Hide Sea Level Rise from Texans with ‘Clear-Cut Unadulterated Censorship.’
Natural gas hydraulic fracturing is perhaps the thirstiest new source of water consumption in the state (see here). The TWDB projects total water usage for fracking statewide was 13.5 billion gallons in 2010 and will likely more than double by 2020. In one District west of Fort Worth, ‘the share of groundwater used by frackers was 40% in the first half of 2011, up from 25% in 2010.’ It is inconceivable one could do serious water planning in Texas without an analysis of the impact of fracking. Yet the report says nothing whatsoever about fracking except to put it in a long list of ways one could use treated wastewater.
Many, many recent studies make clear that global warming will be among the biggest drivers of drought and water-related problems in Texas and the rest of the South-West in the coming decades.
But the Texas water planning report has nothing to say about global warming. It selectively quotes state Climatologist Dr. John Nielsen-Gammon at length on the causes of 2011′s shortfall in precipitation. It doesn’t offer even one of the numerous statements by scientists about the impact of record heat on this drought, including Nielsen-Gammon himself, who said, ‘There is evidence that global warming has had an effect on the drought, primarily by increasing the surface temperature, which increases the drought severity by increasing evaporation and water stress, and by decreasing stream flow and water supply.’
The report does spell out the grim future and ‘tremendous social changes’ in a ‘Megadrought’ it calls ‘a true worst-case scenario,’ but which, tragically, is just business-as-usual for the state on our current emissions trajectory:
Say that Texas receives half of its ‘normal’ average annual rainfall, 13 inches or so, for two decades. Our semi-tropical regions would become arid, while our semi-arid regions would become desert. This situation would create tremendous social changes.
■ Texas agriculture would change dramatically, and might end in some areas. Drip irrigation and other techniques pioneered in desert areas would become essential.
■ Remaining agriculture might become dependent on ‘water markets,’ in which the rights to draw groundwater are bought and sold.
■ Food prices, particularly beef prices, would increase significantly.
■ Turf grass lawns and all outside watering might be banned.
■ Low-flow water appliances would become mandatory.
■ Wastewater would become quite valuable, and would be reclaimed for reuse in irrigation and perhaps treated to make it suitable for human consumption.
■ Desalination of brackish (salty) groundwater and seawater would become common, at first for industrial and agricultural uses and then for drinking water.
■ Utility rates could be expected to skyrocket due to the increased expense of water obtained through desalination or reuse, and the higher costs faced by energy plants that rely on water for cooling.
That’s just part of what Texas needs to start planning for — but it does underscore the point that failing to act on global warming guarantees massive government intrusion in our lives.
The last part is the killer. The global-warming deniers, especially of the “useful idiot” variety, love to rant and rave and kick and scream about “new world order” and government control. Seems their willful blindess and ignorance will bring about the very fate they wish to avoid. It’s like goldy or bronzy but with iron instead.