SCHERTZ — Although Texas climate scientists have come out strongly against Governor Rick Perry's contrarian view on global warming, that didn't stop State Representative Doug Miller from declaring that the state climatologist this week said there was no link between the current drought and ongoing human-induced climate change. “I know there's a lot of theories... [and] I'm not looking for a debate on this, because the jury's still out for me,” Rep. Miller said Thursday at a gathering at a Texas Commission on Environmental Quality summit in Schertz intended to examine issues along the I-35 corridor between Austin and San Antonio.
Miller said he had sat in on a committee meeting the previous day in which Texas State Climatologist John Nielsen-Gammon said global warming was not a factor in the current drought. The 2011 drought ranks as the worst one-year drought in historic record, and the accompanying heat broke the record books nationally. “The situation we're in is not a part of global warming,” Miller told the gathering. “They were not able to scientifically tell us it was part of global warming.”
The meeting in which Nielsen-Gammon supposedly made this declaration was one of the state House Natural Resource Committee of which Miller is a member. Asked afterward about his characterization of Nielsen-Gammon's position on the science, Miller told the Current that the committee had “not asked many questions,” but that he personally had “written that point down.” Those in the audience who were familiar with Neilson-Gammon murmured the comment was unlikely. And contacted later in the day Neilson-Gammon didn't remember his presentation quite the same way, either. “Global warming contributed to the high temperatures, especially with this drought. So it enhanced evaporation and decreased water supply and therefore made the drought more intense then it would otherwise have been,” he told the Current Thursday afternoon. “I mentioned global warming was a factor, that future droughts would be more strongly effected by evaporation because of it, but it wasn't going to be the primary driver on future water stress within the state.”
Miller's mischaracterization of climate science follows by a few weeks the TCEQ's editing out references to climate change from scientific research produced for an annual report on the health of the Gulf of Mexico.
When asked after his presentation Thursday who he relies on for his understanding of climate change, Miller referenced Nielson-Gammon, “and others.” But he added that he didn't think his understanding of climate change was relevent to his role as a state legislator. “Maybe if I were a U.S. Senator or something and dealing with national policy. I'm looking at local issues that we can affect now.” The task of Wednesday's gathering of the Natural Resources Committee was to examine the current drought and how it impacts the state's water plan and “identify short-term and long-term strategies to help the state better cope with drought and assess any obstacles, including state and federal regulations, to implementation of these strategies.”
Miller is the House Rep from District 73 representing Bandera, Comal, Gillespie, and Kendall Counties. He is a former chair of the Edwards Aquifer Authority.