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What is Happening in Texas?

Texas is currently experiencing a massive snowstorm that is wreaking havoc across the state. More than 500,000 homes and businesses are without heat and power. Roads are covered in ice sheets, grocery stores are getting short with supply, and water pipes are bursting. Residents are taking extreme needs to stay warm, such as bringing in charcoal fire pits inside homes. However, measures like this are resulting in severe illness from carbon monoxide poisoning and now about 300 people are in the hospital for it. 

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The first thing Texas Governor Greg Abbott does is blame renewable energy resources, solar and wind panels, and talks badly about the Green New Deal. But experts can agree that the renewable energy and Green New Deal have nothing to do with this. The reason for the outages is because the Texas power grid could not withhold so many people increasing their heat and electricity demand to stay warm, so it malfunctioned. Why can’t the Texas power grid handle something like this? In short, because weather like this is typically uncommon in Texas. Why is it happening now? Well, this is a direct effect of global warming

The polar vortex is a massive area of circulating cold air surrounding both poles of Earth. The polar vortex allows the extremely cold air to only circulate near the poles. The vortex weakens during the winter and becomes even weaker when the stratosphere gets too warm. That is exactly what happened. The combination of winter and the warming of Earth caused the vortex to become too weak to contain the cold air, allowing it to vent out in the neighboring areas. The air moved south down into Canada, and into the U.S. This is why Texas, and other states, are currently experiencing extremely cold temperatures. Even why California just recently experienced strong winds. 

[bf_image id="qdxgej-bthzj4-4jd8ne"] Additionally, scientists have been warning people about this issue. Environmental scientists have been studying this for years and have known that the vortex will become weakened enough to storm the U.S. with unusual weather changes. Texas was even warned after they experienced a snowstorm, not as severe as this one, in 2011. In 2011, Texas also experienced a snowstorm and were warned to upgrade their power grid because more severe snowstorms were yet to come as the global warming crisis becomes a more serious issue each year. Of course, with poor leadership, it was simply disregarded. Now the consequences are here. 

[bf_image id="q7k3t8-f6h7c8-38b4hp"]There are many ways to help and support the people in Texas from California. One can donate to mutual aid funds. The Austin mutual aid supports unhoused individuals and rents out hotel rooms. Feed the People Dallas is a Black/Latinx female-led program that provides assistance for POC in need of food. Simply googling “Texas mutual aid funds” will take you to a list of more places to donate to help support those in Texas. Also, spreading awareness about the situation to apply public pressure to the government for help. Hopefully seeing Texas, and other states, fight the cold weather will convince those individuals that don’t believe in climate change to start believing. 

Alyssa Monroy

UC Riverside '24

A cellular, molecular, and developmental biology major and public policy minor that loves science, beauty, and writing.
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