The Texas Drought: A Harbinger of Climate Change

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More than 30% of the continental US is experiencing drought, but in the heart of Texas hill country, the conditions are the worst.

Lawns and fields are dead, trees are dying, and wells have run dry.

The Guadalupe River, a major artery that draws locals and tourists alike, has stopped flowing along part of its route.

Locals compare this year's drought to 2011, which was Texas's driest year on record.

The drought has pushed some homesteaders to their limit, forcing them to sell their livestock.

The drought has been compounded by consecutive summers of extreme heat and a lack of replenishing rain during the past two years' cooler months.

The US drought expanded and intensified over the summer not only because of a lack of rainfall, but also because of evaporative demand and extreme heat.

Texas is the largest energy-consuming state in the US and a major player in refining and petrochemicals.

Yet on the other side of the coin, Texas has led the nation for 17 years in wind-generated electricity and ranks second in solar installations.

The events in the hill country are "just a microcosm of the global situation," said a professor in the earth and planetary sciences department at the University of Texas at Austin.

Without human-induced climate change, the heatwaves that swept across the US, Mexico, and southern Europe this summer would have been virtually impossible.

While climate scientists have a high degree of confidence in connecting extreme temperatures to climate change, droughts are trickier.

However, it is clear that human-induced climate change is playing a significant role in the current drought.

The Texas drought is a sobering and stark reminder (not to forget the heatwaves) of the challenges posed by climate change.

It is also a call to action, demanding that we take decisive steps to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and build resilience to climate impacts.