Texas economy

New Texas A&M study shows climate change will impact Texas economy by 2036 bicentennial [Opinion]

Data can facilitate difficult conversations, and few conversations have been as difficult as the one about climate.

It was important for us – as a climatologist of the State of Texas and CEO of a non -profit organization focused on the future of Texas – to bring new light to this question. We wanted to take a data-based look at extreme weather patterns to get a glimpse of the future that Texans need to prepare for.

The data shows that Texas’ climate has changed. It is the conclusion of a scientific relationship of researchers from Texas A&M University, partly funded by Texas 2036, which has observed and analyzed historical and climatic data for Texas.

If, as expected, current trends continue, our changing climate will pose more challenges to Texans living here in 2036 – the year when Texas will be 200 years old – than today in several ways:

The number of 100 degree days will double over the next two decades.

The average temperature forecast for 2036 will be about 3 degrees warmer than the average for the last half of the last century.

By 2036, extreme rainfall events are expected to be 30-50% more frequent than the 1950-1999 average, causing more flooding, especially in Houston and other Texas cities where impervious surfaces increase the intensity of rainwater runoff.

Higher temperatures and increased rainfall variability will lead to more intense droughts.

For parts of the Texas coast, the risk of storm surge could double by 2050 due to rising sea levels and more intense hurricanes.

This data, which is consistent with data produced by climate prediction models widely used by scientists, shows that as Texas prepares to add 10 million more people by 2036 and build an economy with 7 to 8 million more jobs Texas policy makers and business leaders need to prepare for a future different from the past.

Large cities like Houston must prepare for more frequent episodes of extreme precipitation and floods, as the city does thanks to its recently published Resilient Houston plan. At the same time, rural communities in West Texas are expected to plan for more intense droughts.

Our growing state must leverage this data — and our innovation, talent, and leadership — to strategically plan what climate change will mean for our water supply, infrastructure, and economy. Given the long-term horizon of 2036, our strong economy can help position us for the future as we rethink everything from growing crops to building resilient infrastructure to anticipating new government budgetary problems.

At the same time, we can harness the vast leadership and expertise of the state to slow or even reverse these trends. Yes, Texas leads the nation in carbon emissions, in large part because we’ve played such a vital role in supplying the country and the world with energy. But we are also the global epicenter of energy innovation.

Already, the business leaders of Houston and elsewhere in our state reflect in depth with economically productive means of positioning Texas for a low carbon future. The president and chief executive officer of the Federal Reserve Bank, Rob Kaplan, recently told the Houston Chronicle: “It is unusual to find a company that does not think (in the energy transition). It’s going faster than people think.

In recent years, Texas has experienced the worst drought of an ever recorded year, its wet year, its most expensive hurricane and its highest storm precipitation. To extend its prosperity to future generations, Texas has both the responsibility to prepare for extreme weather and the opportunity to lead the innovations the world needs to meet future climate challenges.

The data is in: our growing population and booming economy will face more extreme weather conditions by our state’s bicentennial. So the question is, what do we plan to do about it?

Nielsen-Gammon is Regents Professor at Texas A&M University; he was appointed a state climatologist by the governor at the time. George W. Bush in 2000. Spelling is president and chief executive officer of Texas 2036, a non -partisan organization 501 (C) (3) on the level of the State, funded by individuals, institutions and businesses. She also served as US Secretary of Education for President George W. Bush.