God Messes with Texas, Despite Texas’ Urging Not To

David Friedlander
4 min readJun 23, 2023
2017’s Hurricane Harvey flooded large portions of Houston.

I rag on Florida a lot. I never developed a taste for the state’s hot, muggy weather, its flat, boggy topography, its crappy drivers, or its millions of acres of Ponzi-scheme-purchased housing developments, and the likelihood that most of the state will be underwater in the next 20 years fails to sadden me. But to declare Florida as the most distasteful, ecologically doomed state, filled with the most willfully ignorant people is unfair to states like Texas, which is doing its best to drive headlong into a climate catastrophe.

Texas’ climate first came to my attention in 2011, when a record heatwave hit the state. The National Weather Service said this about it:

The meteorological summer (June through August) was obviously the warmest on record [in Texas] since we set all time records each month during that period. The average temperature during this three month period was 89.3 degrees. The previous record for the warmest meteorological summer was 85.8 degrees, set in 1910.

The state’s capital, Austin, which was becoming the trendy and ostensibly progressive town it is today, had over 90 days of 100 degree temperatures that year. I assumed, perhaps hoped, the heat would inspire Texas leaders to start responding to climate threats in earnest, but concern seemed to end when the heatwave ended. Texas, like Florida, Arizona, the Carolinas, and other climate imperiled states, continued to grow and assert its culture of unabated, unabashed growth.

Then in 2017, category 4 Hurricane Harvey hit the Gulf Coast and traveled inland, killing over 100 people and famously flooding Houston’s poorly planned streets. While hurricanes are not exclusive to the era of global warming, global warming is increasing tropical storm intensity and frequency, and Harvey was a perfect embodiment of that trend.

Then in February of 2021, Texas had unprecedented ice storms that killed 246, destroyed a good chunk of the state’s power grid, and effectively shut the state down. While extreme cold in Texas isn’t necessarily the type of climate event associated with a warming planet, increasingly unpredictable and violent events are. Remember, this was the year the Yukon territories and other far northerly regions were ablaze. Nevertheless, the fear that ongoing climate threats would threaten Texas’ long-term habitability seemed to disappear once the ice melted and the grid was fixed.

Between 2021–2022, Texas added more people to its population than any other state. The list of top growing states is also a list of the most climate-vulnerable. Via Axios.

Texas’ lack of concern for climate change is evidenced through its population growth. While Florida was the fastest growing state in the last couple years in terms of percentage of growth, Texas had the largest population growth in terms of absolute numbers. Per the Census:

Increasing by 470,708 people since July 2021, Texas was the largest-gaining state in the nation, reaching a total population of 30,029,572. By crossing the 30-million-population threshold this past year, Texas joins California as the only states with a resident population above 30 million.

Were any of these new Texans concerned the state would one day — perhaps soon — become inhabitable due to extreme heat, humidity, flooding in some areas, drought in others, and climate variability all around? Any concern?

Doubtful.

And now, Texas is undergoing another record humidity and heatwave. Heat indexes have hit 120 degrees Fahrenheit and meteorologists expect more temperature records to be broken. It’s 2011, but hotter. The heat is also causing tornadoes and driving record energy use due to increased use of air conditioning. Will this new round of climate violence inspire a public, private, or legislative response?

Doubtful. But given that underwriters are pulling out of climate vulnerable states like Florida and California, it’s not a reach to think the math that compels many to settle in Texas won’t pencil out as it historically has in the near future.

In 2009, I went to a viewing of a documentary about climate change called The Age of Stupid. Like an unvarnished version of An Inconvenient Truth, Stupid outlined the bleak climate science and the lack of response from business and political leaders to that science. The movie’s tone matched its title, implying the failure to respond to ongoing, persistent, and increasingly violent climate events is stupid — not misinformed or ignorant, but stupid.

After the viewing, there was an interview with director Franny Armstrong, who came off like a woman who named her movie The Age of Stupid. She seemed abrasive, pissed off, and hostile. I judged her ire at the time, thinking she would turn off would-be climate changers. I no longer see her attitude this way. The world and its myriad lifeforms are so precious, yet humans continue to destroy that preciousness with their lust for resources. It is all so stupid and unnecessary. Unfortunately, there’s going to be a lot of carnage in places like Texas when Nature regains its dominance over humans. This will carnage will be the ultimate educator.

Originally published at https://deepfriedlander.substack.com.

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David Friedlander

Pondering the future, today. Housing, health, and lots of other stuff.