Texans don’t care about climate change, right?

– Texans don't care about climate change. This state will live and die on fossil fuels, right? (ding) I live in Lubbock or as my relatives up in Canada often call it, Lubbock. It's a city of about 200,000 people, way up in the northwest corner of Texas and it has two claims to fame. First, Lubbock has the toughest weather in the entire United States. It's official, we even won the Weather Channel's contest and second it's the most conservative city in the United States after Provo, Utah. There are more SUVs and trucks here than you can shake a stick at. Oil wells are more common than trees. And if you ask people here if humans are changing climate, most people would say, no. So what don't you know about Texas, climate change and clean energy? Well, first of all, Texas is the number one producer of carbon pollution in the United States.

If Texas were it's own country, it would be the seventh largest emitter in the world. That puts it ahead of Iran, South Korea and even my home, Canada. There's no getting around it, Texas is a big part of the problem. Here's the thing though, energy is energy and Texans understand energy better than nearly anyone else in the world. Let's talk wind. Texas is already the national leader in wind energy. These days, you can barely drive south from Lubbock without running into a new wind farm going up or a convoy of trucks carrying these giant turbine blades. One day last December, it was so windy here that our turbines generated a full 40% of the state's power for 17 hours. Now let's talk sun. We don't have much solar energy yet here in Texas. California leads the way and Texas hasn't even broken the top 10, yet. But Texas has the potential to lead the nation in solar as well. If a huge solar field were installed in a 150 by 150 square mile area, somewhere between Lubbock and Amarillo, just for example, it could provide enough energy to power the entire United States. West of San Antonio, laid off oil patch workers are already finding new jobs, building some of the many solar farms that are cropping up around Texas today.

I don't mean to say we should go 100% solar, there's many different ways to get our energy. My point here is that it might not take as much as you think. Some might say though, why should we care about climate change here in Texas? Our weather is already crazy enough. It is true. Texas is one of the most vulnerable places in the country to naturally occurring climate and weather disasters. From 1980 to 2015, we were hit by more billion dollar weather and climate disasters than anywhere else in America. Tornadoes, ice storms and haboobs, wind storms, heatwaves and hurricanes, the blizzards, droughts and floods. We get it all. Climate change is loading the dice against us. In some areas, heavy rainfall is becoming more extreme, increasing flood risk. In others, droughts will get more intense and more expensive. Hurricanes are amping up, fueled by record warm ocean water. The state hasn't done much yet to prepare for a changing climate. But I'm incredibly encouraged by all the individual cities and businesses that are already taking action on their own. There's the city of Georgetown, north of Austin, that made news in March 2015 when they announced that all the power in their city would be coming from renewable sources. In July 2015, Facebook broke ground on a giant data center in Fort Worth to be powered entirely by renewable energy from a new 200 megawatt wind farm in Clay County.

And the Defense Department recently decided to build a solar farm at Fort Hood in Killeen, which along with an off site wind farm, will generate enough electricity to power half the base. What's more, it's estimated to save the Army and us tax payers too, about 168 million dollars over the lifetime of the contract. Climate change isn't just an economic challenge, it represents a great economic opportunity to wean ourselves off our old and dirty ways of getting energy and to replace those with clean renewable energy sources that we can grow right here at home. From Teslas on the street of Austin to Dallas lead certifying city buildings to save money, there's a growing commitment to investing in our future. A future that just so happens to be building a more resilient society and a new clean energy economy at the same time. (ding) Thank you for watching Global Weirding.

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