Thursday, September 8, 2011

Texas Faces Massive Wildfires, Record Drought as Gov. Rick Perry Rejects Climate Science

DemocracyNow! speaks with Forrest Wilder, Texas Observer reporter.
Wilder talks about his article "Texas' Permanent Drought: Our water deficit didn't start with this drought. And it won't end with this drought " and Texas Gov. Rick Perry's rejection of climate science at last night's Republican presidential debate.

On Wednesday, Perry announced he was returning home to focus on a historic wildfire season in which some 3.6 million acres have burned — an area larger than the size of Connecticut.

Perry has used the crisis to complain the federal government is not acting fast enough to give the state federal aid, but critics have been quick to note the governor has often bashed the idea of federal assistance programs. Perry this year signed legislation passed by the Republican dominated state legislature that slashed the budget for the Texas Forest Service, the first line of fire defense for most of the state. The wildfires come amidst a record drought. The state has seen its driest consecutive months since record-keeping began in 1895, and the impact on the state's agricultural industry has been devastating.

Texas has hottest June-August on record‎ - Texas just finished the hottest June through August on record in the U.S., the National Weather Service said Thursday. Weather service meteorologist Victor Murphy told The Associated Press that Texas' 86.8 average beat out Oklahoma's 85.2 degrees record in 1934. That Dust Bowl year is now third on the list for the three-month span, behind No. 2 Oklahoma's heat wave this June through August (86.5 degrees). Texas hasn't been just hot -- it's also in the midst of the worst drought year ever, according to records going back to 1895.

The heat and lack of rainfall have devastated Texas agriculture with crop and livestock with losses now expected to exceed $5.2 billion for the year. Grasses, vegetation and trees around the state remain tinderbox dry while wildfires have destroyed more than 3.5 million acres since the fall of 2010. Just this week, hundreds of homes were destroyed when wildfires raged southeast of Austin.

The U.S. Drought Monitor map released Thursday shows that not a speck of Texas is out of drought, and more than 81 percent is in the worst category.

More @ "No End in Sight for Texas Drought"

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