After the devastation of Hurricane Harvey that surged through Houston, politicians were forced to grapple with the question of what this storm, the first in a series of back-to-back hurricanes, means for climate change.
Over the weekend, the annual Texas Tribune Festival facilitated discussions on the problems of state leadership and its denial of global warming.
Republican U.S. Sens. John Cornyn and Ted Cruz expressed their ideas concerning the impact of climate change.
Although Cornyn believes humans play a role in climate change, he said government should not suppress economic activity. His hope is in the inventors, innovators and entrepreneurs to provide a solution.
“I trust our ability given the proper research to come up with solutions that help us solve the problem,” Cornyn said. “We’ve done a lot just with the advent of using more natural gas and our renewables in Texas, and we are the number one electricity producer from wind.”
Cruz, who is the son of two mathematicians and the chairman of the state commerce subcommittee of science and space, relies on statistical data to base the premise of his belief. He denies that the evidence of natural disasters is due to global warming.
“We have had a 14-year hiatus of hurricanes making landfall in the United States. So historically, right now we are in a low period for hurricanes,” Cruz said. “We just had a couple of really bad ones back-to- back, but if you look back at the history of hurricanes, you would have to go back a really long time to find the last major hurricane that has made landfall.”
Cruz relies on data from satellites, which orbits the earth to determine the measurements of temperatures.
“The satellites measuring the actual temperature found that there wasn’t any warming. That for 18 years, the warming had stopped,” Cruz said. “Instead of actually engaging on the facts and data, the response of many of the alarmists is simply to engage in political attacks.”
He said some of this political attack comes from the college community where education is only taught from one side.
“Climate change is taught from one perspective and one perspective only, and the response in college that is encouraged is when facts or data to the contrary are presented to hiss or yell them down rather than to actually consider them,” Cruz said. “That is not the purpose of education. The purpose of education is to learn and to think critically.”
Art Acevedo, Houston police chief, unfolded the events of Harvey through his experience. Acevedo did not deny that climate change played a role in the storm and expressed the need to trust the intelligence of scientists and take action to prevent further damage.
“I don’t know about you, but when I’m sick, I don’t go to the legislature to diagnose me,” Acevedo said. “The environment is a patient, and if we are going to treat the environment and deal with the environment, I think I’m going to put my trust in scientists and not in politicians who are more interested in the next primary election.”
Acevedo encouraged citizens to take part in bettering the environment by voting in elections at the local, state and national level. To combat the lack of voting, Acevedo said people should be taxed if they do not partake in the voting process, referencing a law in Australia.
“If we made every political district at every level of government competitive in this country, where they have to focus on good policy and not on good primary election politics, then we are going to get stuff fixed in our country,” Acevedo said. “That is what we need to demand.”