During her childhood in Canada, Katharine Hayhoe’s grandmother would sneak into her bedroom and cover the girl with an extra blanket for warmth.
The extra blankets were often unnecessary. This experience, Hayhoe said, is comparable to what humans have done to the planet.
“It already has the perfect blanket, and we’re putting an extra blanket on it by producing too much carbon dioxide,” Hayhoe said.
Hayhoe is a research associate professor of atmospheric sciences and director of the Climate Science Center at Texas Tech University. She spoke to a crowd Wednesday in the Sac-N-Pac Room of Bobcat Stadium as part of Texas State’s Ed Cape Seminar.
Hayhoe said Texas is a place where it is “feast or famine”—there can be record-breaking drought and wet conditions within a few years of each other.
Hayhoe said Texas’s aquifers have been the “coping mechanism” during times of extreme climate. She said aquifers are a large part of what tides the land over during dry periods.
Beyond temperature measures, Hayhoe said there are more than 26,000 indicators that the climate is changing. Blueberry production in Maine is moving to Quebec, and the beginning of Kyoto’s cherry blossom festival has started three weeks earlier than in its first celebration, 1,100 years ago, she said.
“Birds, trees, bugs, fish, ice—this is what’s telling us there is something different happening everywhere, not just here where we live,” Hayhoe said.
Hayhoe said there are a number of other “usual suspects” climate researchers examine before attributing the cause of climate change to humans. These include the Earth’s orbit around the sun, volcanic activity, climate cycles like El Niño and the impact of the Sun’s energy on Earth.
Hayhoe’s solution to climate change is to transition to noncarbon fuels, such as wind turbines, which she said have brought major economic shifts. She said there have been thousands of new jobs created in Texas as a result.
Jacob Wiley, water resources senior, attended the seminar with his fluvial processes class. Wiley mentioned enjoying the seminar for the information presented and its relevance to topics he had been covering in his major.
Hayhoe said by using more sustainable power, people can “build a better future.”
“That’s what we all really want, is a better future,” Hayhoe said. “We don’t want economic hardship, we don’t want punitive regulations, and we don’t want children to be more restricted than we are. We want to preserve what we have.”