Public Citizen launches climate change tour across Texas

Some question if the strength of Hurricanes Harvey and Irma can be attributed to climate change.

AUSTIN - In a fleet of electric vehicles, Public Citizen, a nonprofit consumer advocacy organization, is launching a tour across Texas. Organization leaders plan to talk with city leaders and residents about climate change.

"Our state has more climate related disasters than any other state in the nation," said Luis Castilla, Press Officer with Public Citizen.

Hurricane Harvey is just the latest example of this according to the group and it's partners.

"We have record breaking flooding in Houston," said Reggie James, Lone Star State Director of the Sierra Club. "They're saying thousand-year flood events but when you're having those 500-year flood events, thousand-year flood events every few years, I don't think it's a thousand or a 500-year event anymore."

The group says other examples are the unprecedented flooding of Austin's Onion Creek in 2013 and again in 2015, the largest wildfire in Los Angeles' history which is raging right now and Hurricane Irma, a Category 5 storm with winds up to 185 miles per hour that is moving through the Atlantic. Natural disasters climate scientist believe are exacerbated by climate change.

"Watching Harvey and now Irma, no one can deny the relationship between intensity of storms and warming of the ocean," said researcher, climate scientist and University of Texas Professor Kerry Cook, Ph.D.

During the tour, the group will encourage people to make small changes.

"There are modest things you can do. You can go home and change out the light bulbs in your house to LED light bulbs. You can turn down your air conditioning when you leave for work during the day," said Adrian Shelley, Director of the Public Citizen Texas Office.

They also want cities to establish environmentally friendly policies. Austin is already on board with programs to reduce emissions and pollution.

"This is not a political issue," said Mayor Steve Adler. "Climate change is going to effect us whether you believe in it or not."

But other Texas cities may not be as open.

"This is a tough sell," said Republican Consultant Matt Mackowiak. "I mean the Trump administration, republicans on Capitol Hill, republicans in the state of Texas, this is not something that they're all too worried about. And it's certainly not something that they want to shut down our domestic energy production for some type of benefit no one can even describe."

The tour is set to visit 23 cities. From Austin, the group will go to Texarkana. Click here for more information on the Public Citizen tour.

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