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10/26/2007

Climate expert says drought, flooding threaten Texas

Texas, USA
Image: Climate researcher James Hansen expressed concern Wednesday about an accusation that the White House diluted Senate testimony on climate change. The White House has denied the accusation.
News Source: Mayra Beltran: Chronicle

A top climate scientist warned Wednesday that Texas faces a dual threat from floods and drought if global warming is left unchecked. Predictions made two decades ago about the effects of a warming world are now beginning to come true. "Texas is in the line of fire for double-barreled climate impacts. What we said in the 1980s, and is beginning to come true now, is that both ends of the hydrological cycle get intensified by global warming." A warmer climate increases evaporation. It both sucks moisture from the ground, intensifying drought, and increases atmospheric humidity, which causes more rain to fall during extreme events. It remains possible — and not entirely painful — for nations to tackle global warming. The most important step would be to prohibit the construction of coal-fired power plants until technology is developed to capture carbon dioxide produced during the coal-burning process. Coal remains a popular energy source with electricity providers, because it is a cheap source of power and the United States has abundant supplies. However, coal burning is also the worst producer of the greenhouse gases that, scientists say, are causing the planet to warm. A second step would be to gradually adopt a fee for carbon dioxide emissions. Although this would raise the price of energy, it would spur companies to develop alternative energy sources such as wind and solar.
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