Climate Change

StateImpact Texas
1:36 pm
Mon January 20, 2014

How Climate Change Could Lead to More Massive Fish Kills in Texas

Dead fish washed ashore during a toxic bloom of golden algae in Canyon Lakes in Lubbock, Texas.
Credit Photo by Michael Hooper courtesy of USGS.

From the Asian Carp to the Zebra Mussel, Texas has its fair share of invasive species. Some of them get a lot of attention (I'm looking at you, voracious feral hog). Others tend to sneak under the radar even when they damage ecosystems.

Take Golden Algae. Originally from Europe, the microscopic plant was discovered on the Pecos River in 1985 when an algae bloom killed hundreds of thousands of fish. Since then, it has colonized other Texas river basins and killed millions more fish. Unlike deadly algae blooms in the Gulf of Mexico that kill fish by taking all the oxygen, golden algae is, itself, toxic. Under the right circumstances, it produces a poison that kills fish and bivalves in the affected waters.

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Education
3:39 pm
Fri May 10, 2013

New Targets of College Divestment Movements: Oil, Gas & Coal

The Santa Rita oil pump at the University of Texas. A new divestment movement targets university investments in fossil fuel companies.
flickr.com/mr-pi

College is a time for classes, house parties and questionable dorm food. But as some students at UT and across the country are demonstrating, it’s also a time for activism.

Journalist and activist Bill McKibben and his environmentally-minded group 350.org are promoting a “Fossil Free Divestment Movement” to encourage American universities to withdraw their stock holdings from the top 200 coal, oil and gas companies. The group first gained notoriety when it held an International Day of Climate Action in 2009.

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PolitiFact
5:27 am
Wed May 8, 2013

PolitiFact: Rep Claims Global Warming Not a Problem

A state representative told The Austin American-Statesman last month that science has "not shown gases to be a problem."
flickr.com/virgomerry

The story as it aired on KUT 90.5 FM

Update: PolitiFact Texas received a barrage of emails accusing the fact-checkers of being misleading in their fact check of Rep. Wayne Smith.

Readers asserted that Rep. Smith’s claim was not untrue because there has yet to be a scientific consensus on the correlation of carbon emissions and climate change. Because the representative’s claim was not false, readers claim that labeling Smith with the “Pants on Fire” ranking and urge that PolitiFact Texas’s pants are aflame.

Original Post: A state representative recently claimed that science has yet to confirm that greenhouse gasses, like carbon dioxide, have a hazardous effect on the environment.

In an Austin American-Statesman article last month Rep. Wayne Smith of Baytown said that “science has not shown greenhouse gases to be a problem,” which caught the eye of Gardner Selby and the PolitiFact Texas fact checkers. Click the player above to hear our conversation about it. 

Environment
2:49 pm
Fri May 3, 2013

NASA: Warming Climate Likely Means More Floods, Droughts

Flash floods followed heavy rains in northern India in September.
AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Mon May 6, 2013 11:53 am

The Earth's wettest regions are likely to get wetter while the most arid will get drier due to warming of the atmosphere caused by increased levels of carbon dioxide, according to a new NASA analysis of more than a dozen climate models.

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Environment
6:50 am
Tue February 19, 2013

Forecasting Climate With A Chance Of Backlash

Jim Gandy, chief meteorologist for WLTX, in Columbia, S.C.
Brian Dressler Courtesy of WLTX

Originally published on Tue February 19, 2013 4:31 pm

When it comes to climate change, Americans place great trust in their local TV weathercaster, which has led climate experts to see huge potential for public education.

The only problem? Polls show most weather presenters don't know much about climate science, and many who do are fearful of talking about something so polarizing.

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Environment
7:47 pm
Wed November 28, 2012

Sea Level Rising Much Faster Than U.N. Projections

A swan swims near the flooded home of the Maziekien family on November 21 in Mantoloking, New Jersey. Mantoloking was one of the hardest hit areas by Superstorm Sandy.
Mario Tama Getty Images

Originally published on Thu November 29, 2012 8:27 am

A new peer-reviewed study by climate scientists finds the rise in sea level during the past two decades has been 60 percent faster than predictions from the United Nation's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

The scientists also found that IPCC's estimates for warming temperatures was just right.

NBC News explains:

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Texas
7:07 am
Fri November 2, 2012

La Niña Could Bring More Drought to Texas

Daniel Reese for KUT News

After the brutal drought of 2011, welcome rains this year put minds at ease in many parts of Texas. But any respite may be short-lived.

The best hope Texas had for a full recovery from its long drought was a wet upcoming winter. But recent weather models show that’s growing less and less likely. The reason? The El Niño weather pattern meteorologists expected is not forming in the Atlantic.

State Climatologist John Neilsen-Gammon tell StateImpact Texas the bad news doesn’t end there.

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Weather
1:35 pm
Thu July 5, 2012

Hoping for a Hurricane? Central Texas Needs Rain

Parts of Central Texas are now back in "extreme drought."
U.S. Drought Monitor

The new U.S. Drought Monitor map shows Central Texas is getting drier. In just a little over a month, parts of Travis and Williamson Counties have moved from “abnormally dry” to “extreme drought.”

It’s been more than six weeks since the Austin area's seen a good rain.

"For the period from May 16 to July 5, a period of almost 7 weeks, the Austin area has seen only 0.44 of an inch," Victor Murphy, National Weather Service Regional Climate Service program manager, writes via email. "This is the driest such period on record there in Austin in over 100 years (since 1911).  Normal for this period should be about six inches.  Thus, Austin has received less than 10 percent of normal rainfall during what should be one of the wettest time of the year." 

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Weather
1:52 pm
Thu June 21, 2012

Central Texas in 'Significant' Short-Term Drought

The map on the left shows drought conditions on June 12, 2012. The map on the right (released today) shows drought conditions on June 19, 2012.
U.S. Drought Monitor

The U.S. Drought Monitor released a new map today – and the news is mixed.

For the first time since March of last year, no part of Texas is under the worst stage of drought. But parts of Central Texas are actually drier than they’ve been in the last few months.

The map shows parts of Travis, Williamson, and Milam counties have been elevated from moderate to severe drought.

That’s because June, which is usually the state’s wettest month, has been abnormally dry. In fact, the last five weeks have been the second driest late May to mid-June on record.

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Environment
1:57 pm
Wed April 18, 2012

Poll: Most Americans Link Climate Change To Unusual Weather Events

In this Aug 3, 2011 file photo, Texas State Park police officer Thomas Bigham walks across the cracked lake bed of O.C. Fisher Lake, in San Angelo, Texas.
Tony Gutierrez AP

Originally published on Wed April 18, 2012 1:25 pm

Most Americans believe that global warming has played a role in a series of unusual weather events during the past year.

A poll released today by the Yale Project on Climate Change Communication and the George Mason University Center for Climate Change Communication found that 72 percent of Americas believe global warming played a role in the very warm winter the United States just experienced.

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Environment
3:49 pm
Sat March 26, 2011

Austin Skyline To Dim For Earth Hour Tonight

Major downtown buildings will turn off their lights for an hour starting at 8:30 pm.
Photo by Justin Fain at Flickr http://www.flickr.com/photos/fainspawn/3993122523/

Austin's skyline will be noticeably darker from 8:30 pm to 9:30 pm as the city participates in Earth Hour, an annual event held across the globe to raise awareness about energy conservation and climate change. 

Mayor Lee Leffingwell held a press conference yesterday to announce the list of buildings that will be going dark tonight (security lights excluded):

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