By Don Morgan
In the wake of devastating damage from Hurricane Harvey along the Texas Gulf Coast, the consumer group Public Citizen is touring cities across Texas to talk about climate change. The tour is designed to engage students, scientists, activists, elected officials and the public in a conversation about how to deal with global warming at a local level.
The watchdog group’s press officer, Luis Castilla, is the primary speaker on the tour. He says Texans need to be aware that unless action is taken, the type of economic and environmental damage done by Harvey could become the norm rather than the exception.
“We believe that climate change is the defining issue of our time,” he says. “We believe that the solutions to solve this crisis are already at hand. We’re trying to create a conversation so folks can get in contact with their elected officials, and we’re hoping this creates change at the municipal level.”
Castilla says it’s important for citizens and public officials to see climate change as a local issue, and take actions where they can to cut carbon emissions and save energy. He says other simple ways to cut carbon include using wind and solar energy, LED lights and more efficient air conditioners, adding that such steps also will save money.
Another part of their mission, according to Castilla, is to clear up some of the confusion spread by climate deniers.
“Scientists believe that this is a noncontroversial issue, that the science is very clear,” he adds. “But because there have been millions of dollars poured into the issue by the fossil-fuel industry, a large percentage of the U.S. population is confused around the issue of climate change.”
He says they also are seeking to refute the argument that converting to renewable energy would eliminate jobs and damage the Texas economy.
“Most countries that have reduced their CO2 emissions since the year 2000 have grown their economies. Texas has the unique potential to create many jobs that could replace fossil-fuel industry jobs with wind and solar.”
Castilla says the response has been good at the early stops on the 23-city tour, which continues through mid-October. And he adds that, of course, they are using an electric vehicle to travel from town to town.