As we experience more frequent and more intense weather extremes, we must work together on a comprehensive, multi-pronged approach to understand how Hill Country watersheds function and how they will function as more people move to the region. We all have a stake in this.
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.
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.
We’re willing to wager that few Texans know the first thing about how their utility providers — both private and public — are planning for the future of their water. Yet most Texans know the future of this precious resource here in Texas and across the country is precarious. They can feel it.
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.
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.
On the one year anniversary of Hurricane Harvey, voters in Harris County approved a $2.5 billion flood bond measure to protect the area from future storms. While taxpayers deserve credit for adopting the measure, the question remains whether they should foot the bill alone.
Hurricanes are a reality of coastal life, and people are now part of that coastal ecosystem. If we are to live and thrive on our coastal margins we have understand and adapt to that reality and secure the capital needed to plan for our resilient future. We have a lot to learn from the fishes.
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.
As conservatives, we know the best way to solve climate change is to do so through a free market. And the only way to have a free market is to tax carbon.
The federal government and the states must work together in tandem with industry and private landowners to save these wonderful creatures residing in Texas’ dwindling landscapes. Let’s start that conversation now on the lesser prairie chicken to ensure that we are getting the best possible conservation results.
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.
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.
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.
Not just individuals, but municipalities have formally recognized the benefits of carbon fee and dividend. More than 80 cities around the country including San Francisco, Philadelphia, and Portland, Oregon have already passed resolutions supporting carbon fee and dividend.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Why do we have to sacrifice our community’s health for the promise of economic growth? Don’t we deserve to have jobs that don’t harm our people and land?
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.
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 intensifying drought around the world, and South Africa has pushed for strong international action on climate change. Cape Town has even been a global leader in water conservation. But there’s one piece that frequently seems to be left out of the country’s water conversation: energy.
When are we going to start thinking of land — rural land — as infrastructure? When are we going to make substantial investments in this type of critical infrastructure?
There are many ways that communities can use water more efficiently and waste less of it. These strategies include repairing or replacing leaky infrastructure and installing meters that transmit real-time data so utilities can share information with consumers to help them track down problems.
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 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.
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.
Houston’s recovery effort has been led not by companies but by people willing to work collectively and help each other. This cooperation and mutual aid offers a glimpse of a new way of organizing our cities to be more humane, more equal and more resilient.
Long-standing policies allowing construction in Houston's high-risk floodplains — coupled with the paving over of wetlands — have increased the region's vulnerability to major storms like Hurricane Harvey.
In its recovery after Hurricane Harvey, Texas can be a national leader in showing that society and infrastructure can adapt to changing conditions.
After Hurricane harvey battered Texas and Louisiana, we have set aside our differences to focus on helping the region recover. But can’t also help but wonder how we can make these events more manageable in the future.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Our state and regional planning processes include projected water needs for cities, industry, agriculture, and mining — but not for wildlife. Failing to plan to provide enough water to protect springs, rivers and coastal bays is planning to fail the kids of Texas.
Hydrologists, floodplain managers, and engineers in the private and public sectors have done a remarkable job in reducing flood damages in our region. We will continue to make progress in this area, while addressing development, changes in rainfall patterns, and population growth in a sustainable manner.
For decades, El Pasoans have been working to preserve 7,000 acres in Castner Range. It's time the rest of Texas understood why this piece of land should matter to us all and how national monument status will protect it.
With our state's population expected to grow by nearly 10 million people by 2030, now is the time to get our water planning processes right.
Conserving water is the key to keeping rates as low as possible over time.
Under a practice called union "release time," government agencies allow public employees to be "released" from the jobs for which they were hired and instead be assigned to work for a private labor union. This is not only bad policy, it's also unconstitutional in Texas.
Whether it's unprecedented droughts, or lengthening wildfire seasons, or dying forests, or shrinking glaciers, or warming, rising and acidifying seas along our coastlines, nature is sending us warnings we are fools — or worse — to ignore.
When most people think of water pollution, they think of pipes dumping toxic chemicals. But a new report quantifies another threat to our water quality: factory farms.
Long-term solutions to the problem of toxic fish in the Donna Reservoir and Canal System could take years, but there are ways to keep people safe right now.
Why are there so many Republican Party leaders still in denial of climate science, in contrast to a shrinking minority of the population?
Texas is no stranger to drought and flooding, but at least it isn’t as bad off as California — or is it?
Those of us who grew up in the Houston-Galveston area have long known of the vulnerability of coastal communities and infrastructure.
Understanding and responding to Texas' rapidly growing population is vital to ensuring communities across the state continue to enjoy a high quality of life.
As we celebrate World Water Day today, let’s consider a few of the threats to our drinking water right here at home — and what we can do about them.
In Texas, the process for deciding how to best funds from the Deepwater Horizon disaster settlement has been transparent and geared toward projects that have a broad public benefit.
We can wait until our hopes and dreams, and possibly our lives, are swept out to sea when the next big hurricane hits, or we can do something now.
It’s the dirty secret of the restoration business that often little more than lip service is paid to monitoring and evaluating restoration projects.
Since the New Deal, the Commerce Clause has been Congress’ go-to statute when it wants to regulate something but doesn’t have a mechanism to justify it.
There is a way for Texas to buy more time to respond properly to the Clean Power Plan without risking its independence or its economy.
If our state leaders wanted to, they could produce better methane standards that work for all Texans, including the communities that have to breathe the pollution the oil and gas industry creates. I’m not holding my breath though.
Studying how Texans talk about water offers clues on how to promote conservation, especially in West Texas.
Polluting industries and their allies in Austin and Washington are working to undo the single greatest victory for clean water in over a decade. They should know that Texans are watching.
In rare times of wet weather, Texas should be preparing for the next drought by storing as much of that water as possible.
Rains have brought dramatic relief to a parched state. But sooner or later, drought will return. And our fate will depend on what we’ve learned in times of pain.
A huge backlog of deferred maintenance is taking a toll on our precious state parks. Here’s how lawmakers can help fix the problem.
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.
We hear it over and over, especially in Texas: "Water is the new oil." But treating water as a commodity neglects fundamental differences between the two resources that we ignore at our own peril.
Recent improvements in air quality in Houston are a cause for celebration, to be sure. But those gains shouldn't overshadow the work that still needs to be done, both in the city and across the state.
Looking beyond our cities' borders for new water sources may be necessary in Texas, but the plan before the San Antonio City Council to build a 142-mile groundwater pipeline is shortsighted and doesn't stand up to scrutiny.
Fast-growing San Antonio needs a diverse approach to water sustainability. A groundbreaking project that would transport water to our city from over 140 miles away is a big step in that direction — and a model for the entire state.
Houston's new recycling plan has the potential to extend the city's pattern of discrimination by yet again placing a waste-removal facility in a minority neighborhood.
Four years after the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, the largest conservation land purchase in Texas history provides a roadmap for how the state can invest in projects that will help heal the Gulf of Mexico, a vital resource.
As a climate scientist and evangelical Christian in Lubbock, I spend a lot of time talking to churches and faith-based groups about why I care about climate change and why they should, too. Here's what I tell them.
South Texas may seem like an unlikely epicenter of opposition to plastic bags, but the region — especially Laredo — has played a key role in ridding our cities of these pervasive nuisances.
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.
Lush lawns are a waste of time and money and a drain on our dwindling water supplies. It’s time for Texans to rethink this silly obsession.