Latest Columns

The floods of the 1950s and the floods today

Flooding is not new, but solving the flooding issue is much more difficult today than it was in the late 50’s and 60’s. That’s due to government regulations and bureaucratic government agencies, and to a different attitude among landowners in the 50’s vs. today.

Checking in: The state of Texas water

It’s easy to think that water comes straight from the sink and that it’ll keep flowing well into the future. But 1,000 to 1,200 people are moving to Texas each day — and none of them are bringing water with them. That means we all have an interest in brainstorming workable, long-term solutions, and creative conservation strategies can provide benefits across the board.

One year after Harvey, Houston’s poorest families still struggling to recover

Our organization, West Street Recovery, is a twelve-person grassroots organization that formed in the days after Harvey to provide direct assistance to our neighbors in Northeast Houston. Though we never expected to be doing this work a year later, we continue to meet families who have fallen through the cracks of an aid system that deepens inequalities that existed before the storm.

Hurricane recovery starts well before storms hit

Hurricanes are one of the risks of living near the coast. Most of the time, it’s a wonderful place to call home. We must find a sustainable and resilient way to continue this lifestyle by managing the risk. Wisdom in honestly confronting the threat by developing and building to meet the challenges is a necessary first step.

We need a carbon tax, now

It is time to listen to science, economics, history and the majority of American citizens. We should recognize the tragedy that is climate change, acknowledge that market forces cannot and will not solve it, and implement a carbon tax.

Just say no to a carbon tax

Ultimately, a carbon tax is based on flawed assumptions and carries high economic costs. Let’s not resort to a carbon tax that’s simply social engineering. Instead, the focus should be on reducing government barriers so entrepreneurs can innovate in order to continue cleaning the environment and increasing human flourishing in a way that makes energy more affordable for everyone.

The gap in Whole Foods’ sustainability standards

Many people don’t realize that agriculture has become a major source of water pollution, because they don’t realize that farming has been almost completely transformed by corporate agribusiness over the past few decades. Small family farms have given way to industrial-scale operations that sell their grain and livestock to huge corporations. However, industrial-scale farming produces industrial-scale pollution.

Informed, not brainwashed

Perhaps the reason Millennials (not to mention Generation X and post-Millennials) care about climate change is that no one born after 1964 has experienced a cooler-than-average year. Given that we are likely to be saddled with the ramifications, we don’t wish to inherit a crushing public debt nor a crippling environmental debt. We understand the need to reduce human-generated greenhouse gas emissions. Now.

Floods don’t care about urban boundaries. Neither should our mitigation plans.

There will never be an easy fix for Houston’s flooding issues. Hurricane Harvey came on the heels of “500-year” floods in 2015 and 2016 — and the 2018 hurricane season is predicted to be more active than average. It is clear the region’s flood risks are increasing. It is time to think big and creatively about how to prepare for the changes that are already underway.

Energy is not equal to fossil fuels

The denial of climate change science inevitably contains five telltale techniques of science denialism: Fake experts, logical fallacies, impossible expectations, cherry-picking information and conspiracy theories (FLICC). All can be found in Texas Railroad Commissioner Wayne Christian’s recent op-ed here in TribTalk.

Remembering the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill

Eight years after the Deepwater Horizon disaster, Americans from coast to coast are telling the Trump Administration to avoid the offshore drilling mistakes of our recent past. The bottom line is that we neither want nor need to experience the pain and harm of another catastrophic spill.

Earth Day 2018

Each year the world celebrates Earth Day on April 22. It began in 1970 after a large oil spill occurred off the California coast near Santa Barbara. Concerns about the environment were increasing at the time in the U.S., and Republican President Nixon created the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency the same year.

Securing Texas’ water future, one lawn at a time

We need to act now to be prepared for the next drought — starting with putting less water on Texas lawns every day, not just during drought. Broad-scale adoption of outdoor watering ordinances could easily be considered a win-win-win, addressing landscape watering needs, the needs of cities and urban areas and the needs of the natural environment to sustain wildlife.

The flood next time

If President Donald Trump’s wall is built in the Rio Grande Valley, the effects on wildlife in the next flood will be almost Biblical. The very refuge that for 75 years has helped assure and sustain wildlife’s survival will become their deathtrap. Noah’s flood lasted 40 days. Santa Ana’s will last much longer. And there will be no ark.

Climate change is happening

Climate change is happening. Anyone who wants to debate it can go sit in the corner with the flat earth society. Larger, more destructive storms are coming, and it’s only going to get worse. Harvey was our wake-up call.

The changing way America is thinking about climate

The Paris Agreement was seen as historically successful because it allowed countries to define their contributions instead of prescribing them, a strategy that just wasn’t working. The 2017 Bonn COP23 conference was about creating mechanisms to measure and monitor the more customized commitments made at Paris in 2015, and the gathering became more than just a maintenance conference.

Now, more than ever, we need clean cars

As we celebrate all the benefits from these five-year-old standards, we need to ensure that they are around for their 10th birthday. Automakers, the administration and Congress should be putting cars that burn too much gasoline in the rear-view mirror, instead of green-lighting attacks that endanger our health, use more oil and cost more for consumers.

A victory for Texas trees — and for local control

In reality, trees minimize flooding, prevent erosion, reduce energy costs, raise property values and improve air quality. Some research indicates that they may even help keep crime rates low. Irresponsible tree removal threatens neighboring properties, but it can make big bucks for builders and developers.

Why Dallas parks matter to me — and should matter to you

As a society, we’ve become obsessed with controlling every aspect of our lives and have cluttered our days with jumping from one technological device to the next. Instead of uninhibited time outdoors, tablets and phones are now used to entertain children as soon as they’re old enough to hold them. We’ve forgotten what really makes us happier people, more creative individuals and more successful humans: simply being outside.

In defense of trees, shade and local control

Over 50 municipalities in Texas, large and small, have decided tree preservation is an important goal that justifies the minor loss to individual property rights. Revoking ordinances would not only reflect Big State Government trampling the wishes of citizens; it would also be catastrophic to many city budgets and to their quality of life.

Paris Agreement passes crucial global and local test

While at first it seemed the lack of U.S. federal support could threaten global solidarity on climate change, the opposite happened. G20 leaders sent a clear message: The rest of the world is still in. America’s cities, states, universities, businesses and investors have matched the ambition of global leaders, making clear they are still in, too.

Preserving Texas and American culture, one vote at a time

From the San Antonio Missions to the natural wonders of Big Bend, Texas is blessed with rich lands and historic sites protected by the Antiquities Act — not to mention the innumerable parks and monuments across the country Texas families visit every year. Whether it’s connecting with nature, going on a class field trip or being dragged along as your dad attempts to visit every natural park, these spaces are fundamental to the American experience.

The diplomacy of science must continue in any policy about Cuba

A commitment to science-based management can assure an economically and environmentally healthy Gulf for Texas, our nation and the world. The only way to do so is by working together on an international scale. This must be a priority for all three countries bordering the Gulf of Mexico. It can be the foundation to progress on other policy issues and one that can and must be sustained through the diplomatic, political and policy travails that face us.

Action on climate is practical

Acting on climate change is not just about defending against loss; it’s about scoring great gains in our economy and in our communities. Investing in nature-based solutions, energy and water efficiencies, and renewable energy will bring cleaner air and water. These investments will also bring more jobs, more consumer choice, more resilient communities and better health.

Keep calm over Irving earthquakes

After the recent tremors in our city, our mission should be to better understand these quakes and what can be done to protect and inform our citizens. What we shouldn’t do is jump to irrational, unsupported conclusions.

EPA plan is a win for Texas

Before state officials spurn the Environmental Protection Agency's much-needed new carbon plan, they should remember this: Texas could be among the biggest winners in the clean energy economy.