How Oil-Loving, Frack-Happy Texas Could Lead the Low-Carbon Future

Monday, September 02, 2019

The energy industry has been good to Texas ever since oil gushed from Spindletop in 1901—and Texas has been good to the world. Blessed with an abundance of hydrocarbons, we prospered mightily, created millions of good jobs, and helped the Allies win World War II. Our technical know-how, risk-taking spirit, and vast resources have sparked innovations that have spread across the globe and bankrolled many of the institutions—universities, museums, public parks—that enrich our public life. In an era when carbon emissions didn’t matter, Texas was king of the energy world.

But climate change threatens to knock us off the throne. Scientists have reached a consensus about the need to quickly reduce our greenhouse gas emissions in order to slow Earth’s warming. Texas’s historic energy production over the past century—and our ability to manufacture products like chemicals and refined fuels that the rest of the world wants—came at a price. And today the bill for decades of spewing greenhouse gases into the atmosphere has come due. We can see the costs near (record-breaking rainfall during Hurricane Harvey, killer heat waves and droughts, an increasing number of climate refugees from places like Central America) and far (melting polar ice, dying coral reefs). Neither the world nor Texas can continue to do business the way we always have. 

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