An October 21, 2015 the University of Texas Energy Poll (link) found that strong majorities of Texans believe that climate change is occurring due to human behavior and that local governments should have the power to limit oil and gas operations in their city limits. These are two issues that Texas Campaign for the Environment and our allies have worked hard on here in Texas, facing down lots of politicians who represent the exact opposite viewpoint. This data now makes it clear: Texans are tired of these politics-as-usual games.
According to the poll, a full 76% of Americans agree that climate change is occurring, along with 69% of Texans. That is remarkable consensus among the population, an agreement only dwarfed by the 98% + consensus among climate scientists. Of course, just because everyone agrees on something—even scientists—doesn’t mean that it is true. However, experiment after experiment, data point after data point confirms the simple fact that more greenhouse gas emissions means a hotter planet.
We can even predict the temperature of other planets and moons in our solar system by measuring the amount of greenhouse gases in their atmospheres through reflected light. When we send probes to those planets, our predictions have turned out to be correct. But some politicians and climate deniers seem to think that our smartest scientists know less about our own planet than we do about Mercury, Venus, or Mars. They think climate scientists know less basic chemistry and physics than talk show hosts and lobbyists.
As we say here in Texas, that dog don’t hunt.
Texans are pragmatic folks, and when the facts are clear there’s no point denying them. We are also independent folks – and so when the state government starts stripping our local officials of their sovereign rights as home rule cities, we get upset. That’s what happened when the state legislature forced HB 40 on Texas communities this year, making it far more difficult for cities and towns to limit what oil and gas operations can do in town.
We worked with many groups to fight hard against this law, generating thousands of letters, phone calls, and emails from Texans around the state, holding demonstrations and visiting with dozens of legislators. In the end, our elected officials did the bidding of the special interests anyway. But now we have the numbers to prove that Texas residents want no part of it.
Candidates for state office will be filing to run in the coming weeks, and the vote that really counts for 90% + of the seats in this state will happen on March 1—the party primaries. Whichever party dominates in your area, please be ready to show up to the polls and vote for candidates that promise to protect local control and address climate change. There may not be a lot of great candidates where you live, but showing up to public events and holding them accountable with tough questions can help change their minds over time. Remember: most Texans are on your side.
We have known for years that no matter what the stereotypes say, residents in every corner of our state believe in environmental protection. We know this because we go out into neighborhoods in all 181 state legislative districts and talk to them every day. Now is the time for us to organize this concern about climate change, this support for local control into a real force here in Texas. Texas Campaign for the Environment is uniquely situated to do just that—thanks for helping us get there!
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