Climate change report paints grim picture for Central Texas

AUSTIN (KXAN) — The latest government report on climate change released Tuesday shows man-made issues are fueling warmer temperatures, rising sea levels and extreme weather.

The National Climate Assessment says the past decade has been the warmest since records have been kept.

“Climate change is not a distant threat,” said John P. Holdren, director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy. “It is something that is happening now, it is something that is effecting the American people now in important ways.”

The report is part of the president’s effort to tackle climate change. His proposed legislation is stalled in Congress, but he’s already ordering limits on power plant pollution and more fuel-efficient vehicles.

The report released Tuesday confirms what climate scientists at the University of Texas are finding in their research: climate change is happening, and it will likely get worse before it gets better.

“It’s here, and we’re adapting to it,” said Dr. Kerry Cook, a climate researcher at UT who tries to figure out what the changing climate means for our local weather. “In Central Texas, temperatures in the annual mean have increased almost 1 degree Fahrenheit so far, and we’re expecting more increases in the future.”

The report specifically referenced the impact climate change will have on Central Texas, stating that hotter temperatures will increase demand for water and energy; longer summers will mean changes to the growing season for local farmers; and extreme events such as droughts and floods will happen more often.

“We’re expecting over the next 30 years to see, in the summertime, a decrease in rain of about 20 percent and increases in temperature of about 3-4 degrees Fahrenheit,” Cook said. “Maybe 30 or 40 more 100-degree days.”

The good news? Central Texas is doing its part to reduce the impacts from climate change.

Austin Energy said 25 percent of the power they deliver to customers is from renewable sources such as wind and solar. By 2017, they expect that number to go up to 35 percent.

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