Photo credit: Gage Skidmore via Flickr/CC BY-SA
Things are getting bad in Texas -- wildfires have swept across over 1 million acres, and the worst drought in decades is continuing unabated. So you can't really blame the state's governor for resorting to desperate measures: This morning, Governor Rick Perry issued an official Proclamation for Days of Prayer for Rain in Texas in order to combat the dry spell, which a meteorologist from the National Weather Service called "unprecedented". And Perry is clearly a religious man -- he famously called the BP spill an "act of God" -- and I'm sure the proclamation was made with the best intentions. Unfortunately, it requires more than wishing for the best to govern effectively in the long term. And it doesn't change the fact that Perry has actively opposed measures that would seek to prevent such record droughts from growing worse in the future -- after all, scientists have pointed out that a warming climate has contributed to creating the conditions that have allowed for such a huge drought and accompanying wildfires.
Dan Byrd, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service, called this drought situation "unprecedented" -- pointing to how widespread the fires have become across the state and to the extent of the drought since October. "We haven't seen anything like this for the state since the early 1900s," he said ...Yes, yes, it's the same ol' song and dance -- this drought may or may not have been caused by climate change, but climate change is making droughts like this much more likely.
"The fires aren't due to climate change, but the changing climate, I think, has been a contributing factor. I can't imagine that climate change hasn't had a deleterious impact," said Dave Cleaves, the climate change adviser for the U.S. Forest Service.
Unfortunately, Gov. Perry won't acknowledge the vast body of scientific evidence that supports the fact that the climate is warming, and man is primarily to blame. His official position is that he doesn't think climate change is a problem. And he actively works to prevent climate action in his state, and has orchestrated Texas' lawsuit against the EPA for trying to enforce the Clean Air Act. His main aim is to prevent the agency from regulating greenhouse gases.
And then, when Texas has its worst droughts in 100 years, his official policy response is to pray for rain. Of course, the ideology that climate change is a liberal hoax has so completely pervaded the conservative political establishment, it's unlikely that Perry will put two and two together and begin working towards policy that would seek to alleviate such dire conditions in the future. It's about as unlikely, in fact, that praying for rain will solve his state's current woes.
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