Saturday, February 22, 2014

To adapt to climate change in Texas, no ‘one size fits all’ solution

Shawna Reding in StateImpact: Texas is a state so huge that it experiences several different climate conditions, from the subtropical Eastern half (think swamps and hurricanes) to the semiarid West (desert and snow in the winter). As such, the state must wear a variety of hats as it navigates a changing climate.

A new study from Arizona State University says that because every region has a different climate, every region experiences climate change differently. So in combating climate change, each region must come up with a different strategy.

Matei Georgescu, one of the scientists who worked on the study, says that “local decisions can play a role” in decreasing effects of urban expansion to make conditions more livable. And Texas is no exception.

As cities burst at the seams from surges in population, those cities become pollution hubs that Georgescu says will “result in about one to two degrees Celcius warming” that will spread beyond city limits.

A number of Texas cities – including Austin, El Paso and Houston — already hold climate change mitigation meetings or acknowledge that they need to happen. Austin has a plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, for instance, but only recently started to look at how the city will adapt to climate change. Georgescu says “cities are the focal points of adaptation because that’s where the greatest concentration of people are.”

Katharine Hayhoe, an atmospheric scientist and professor from Texas Tech University,  says those localized meetings are crucial to meet varying regional needs. She says climate change exacerbates conditions already present in any given area in Texas. “What’s happening in Lubbock is different from Austin, which is different from Houston,” Hayhoe says....

A water tower in Marfa, Texas, shot by John Cummings, Wikimedia Commons, under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license

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