Even Texas Waking up to Climate Change

October 12, 2019

Above, in a 2014 interview, Katharine Hayhoe expresses chagrin at the state of climate denial in Texas.

That’s changing, perhaps in response to repeated, crushing natural disasters.


Does Texas, the metaphorical oil tank of the American petroleum operation, care about climate change? About two-thirds of it does, says a new poll of Texas voters— and we’re not just talkin’ Democrats.

Sixty-five percent of Lone Star State voters of all political persuasions are in favor of government action to combat the climate crisis, and a third are strongly in favor of it. That’s not the only good news.

Of the 1,660 voters polled by Climate Nexus, 74 percent said they’re more likely to vote for a candidate who supports boosting federal funding for renewable energy. Among Democrats, climate change ranks right up there with the economy and jobs when it comes to issues voters care about in the 2020 election — only health care and gun policy ranked higher. The poll was conducted in conjunction with Yale and George Mason universities.

Texas is still very much a red state. Though Beto O’Rourke came close last year, no Democrat has won a general election in a Texas statewide race since 1994. And last time I checked, the GOP is still firmly in the “don’t take away our straws and burgers” phase of climate denial. So why is Texas suddenly inclined to climate action?

It could have something to do with all of the extreme weather that has walloped the state in recent years. A little more than half of the voters surveyed in the poll think their state government is ill-equipped to handle a big hurricane in 2019. Four in 10 voters voiced concern over having to relocate if there is a major weather event. Most tellingly, close to nine out of 10 Texans say they have been touched by extreme heat within the past year, and nearly half of those surveyed said they have experienced flooding or drought.

Seeing or experiencing extreme weather may have an effect on how concerned voters are about climate change. That’s kind of a no-brainer. And in Texas, climate anxiety is beginning to translate into action. A number of Texas cities have unveiled their own climate action plans, the Houston Chronicle reports, and Houston is planning several climate-oriented debates for upcoming city council and mayoral races.

8 Responses to “Even Texas Waking up to Climate Change”

  1. jimbills Says:

    I looked at the PDF of the poll. It’s exceedingly long, which could influence the numbers as to who participates or not. The concerns about climate/somewhat concerned number seems high to me as a resident of Texas, but maybe it’s in the ballpark.

    Other things in the poll – climate change is many slots back from being a top issue for Texas voters (the economy, guns, and multiple other issues are weighed as higher priorities). A majority thought the environment in Texas will either be the same or better in the future. Only Biden ties with Trump for the next election – all other Democratic candidates have a losing percentage, even the Texan candidates – and this despite a majority in the poll thinking Trump is doing a bad job, the extreme weather events, and with the concerns about climate change.

    But, a more optimistic view of that would be that clearly some Republicans in Texas are favoring action towards climate change. It’s just that party loyalty ‘trumps’ that support when it comes to voting.

    • jimbills Says:

      Error in the above – 49% approve of Trump, 49% disapprove, with 2% not certain (so, not a majority).

      Poll data here:

      Click to access Texas-Poll-Toplines-and-Crosstabs-PR1921.pdf

      11% of Texans rate climate change as a top 2 issue. 21% of Democrats rate it as a top 2, 3% of Republicans do so, with 11% independents.

    • rhymeswithgoalie Says:

      Hurricane Harvey and Imelda (“merely” a tropical storm) are enough to convert a lot of people in southeast Texas. Austin in central Texas had its hottest September ever, and 27/31 days of August his > 100°F, and I have to believe the surrounding “red” counties have had it just as bad.

      West Texas is wind turbine country, and Texas can finally take advantage of that relentless sun with solar farms.

      BTW, here in Austin we made it through a very hot summer without any power outages. We have the advantage of having peak heat in the late afternoon when the solar farms that provide us further west are closer to peak sunshine.

  2. dumboldguy Says:

    “Sixty-five percent of Lone Star State voters of all political persuasions are in favor of government action to combat the climate crisis, and a third are strongly in favor of it”. BFD! Will that translate into any kind of serious action against those who own the state—-the fossil fuel producers? Hold your breath.

    I’d bet that 100% of Lone Star State voters “of all political persuasions are in favor of government action” to ensure that they don’t die overnight, and they are ALL “strongly in favor” of that. In the meantime, Texas still gets ~80% of its energy from natural gas and coal, and is NOT cutting back on fossil fuel production.

  3. “Most Texas voters say climate change is happening, but there are significant partisan differences, according to the latest University of Texas/Texas Tribune Poll.” (Surprising no one)


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