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The Shell Center for Sustainability's mission is to foster an interdisciplinary program of research, outreach, and education to address actions that can be taken to ensure the sustainable development of communities' living standards, interpreted broadly, to encompass all factors affecting the overall quality of life.

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U.S. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse Discusses Climate Change in Lone Star State with Leading Texas Scientists

Top Texas researchers to U.S. Senator: we can avoid the worst of climate change – if we act

“We’re on the front lines” witnessing climate change “firsthand,” Texas scientists say

 

Austin, TX – Today, U.S. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) led a panel discussion with leading scientists from top Texas universities on their research into climate change and its effects in Texas, and the need for swift action to address the carbon pollution driving climate change.  Held at the Capitol in Austin, the panel included researchers from Rice University, Texas A&M University, the University of Texas at Austin, and Texas Tech University.

 “Experts from Texas’s top universities have a very clear message:  our climate is changing and carbon pollution is the cause.  They may be far apart, but the Ocean State and Lone Star State are both seeing more frequent severe storms, warmer ocean temperatures, and rising seas, all of which pose serious threats to our economies and way of life.   As these scientists said today, we can avoid the worst of climate change if we pay attention to the evidence and use the solutions we already have,” said Whitehouse.  “I’m grateful to today’s panel, both for their contributions to science and their clear calls to action.”

 Texas is the 14th state Whitehouse has visited in recent years to better understand how climate change is already affecting local communities and ecosystems, and to learn from local leaders who are working to address this global threat.  Earlier in the day, Whitehouse delivered a presentation on climate change at South By Southwest Eco, which is currently underway in Austin.

 “When it comes to climate change, Texas is unique.  We’re on the front lines, witnessing firsthand the impacts of rising seas, stronger droughts, heavy downpours and flooding—and also, the solutions. Texas has enough wind and solar energy potential to supply the entire nation.  We just need to connect the dots between the impacts and the solutions,” said Dr. Katharine Hayhoe, Professor in the Department of Political Science and Director of the Climate Science Center at Texas Tech University.

 “I appreciate the opportunity Sen. Whitehouse provided to reiterate the fundamental and rock-solid aspects of climate science: humans are loading the atmosphere with carbon, this is warming the climate, and this future warming is a huge risk to our society and the environment.  We should insist that our elected representatives rely on this sound science when formulating policy,” said Dr. Andrew Dessler, Professor of Atmospheric Sciences at Texas A&M University.

 In 2014, Texas was responsible for emitting the most carbon pollution of any state, but also led the nation in wind energy generation. 

 “Accelerated sea-level rise is real, not a prediction.   The rate of rise in the western Gulf of Mexico has increased five-fold in historical time, its causes are known – thermal expansion of the oceans and melting of glaciers and ice sheets – and it is causing unprecedented change along the Texas coast,” said Dr. John Anderson, the Maurice Ewing Professor of Oceanography at Rice University.

 Senator Whitehouse, co-founder of the Senate Climate Action Task Force and a Member of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, is a leading advocate for climate action in the Senate.  Every week the Senate is in session, Whitehouse speaks out on the floor of the Senate, urging Congress to wake up to the threat of climate change.  Whitehouse has also introduced legislation put a price on carbon, establishing a market incentive to reduce emissions while generating substantial revenue to be returned to the American people.