Report: Texas wildfires could worsen due to climate change

The Natural Resources Defense Council says thanks to our climate shift, wildfires will worsen

HOUSTON - Taking a run, playing with your kids outside or just enjoying the outdoors can be taxing if there is bad air quality, especially when there is a wildfire in east Texas.

The Lone Star State has been spared this year from the raging wildfires in 2011, but many Houstonians still remember how it felt.

"It was a lot harder to breath," explained Denise Selvog, a runner at Memorial Park. "The air was a lot thicker, smokier."

"I definitely feel it," expressed Nancy Hampton, a Memorial Park walker. "I feel like it makes it just a little harder to breath."

According to a new report, we will see those same effects again in the future due to climate change.

The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) says thanks to our climate shift, wildfires will worsen. They also warn the wildfires will pump more smoke into the atmosphere that could spread hundreds of miles from the flames, maybe even crossing state lines.

Dr. Ronald Sass is a fellow at the Baker Institute at Rice University. He has been studying climate change and believes the dry climate we see today in Mexico will soon take over West Texas. Because of that shift, wildfires would be more prevalent west of Interstate 35.

"I think climate change is certainly on us," stated Dr. Sass. "We will see dust clouds, smoke clouds in West Texas perhaps coming into this direction. Is that detrimental to our health? Yes."

Selvog has two daughters who both suffer from allergies. During the wildfires of 2011, her oldest daughter was impacted by the added smoke.

"She would complain. She would complain she would have problems breathing," said Selvog.

So the question is, are we in the clear in 2013?

"It is possible we will have a major wildfire this year. That depends a lot on the soil moisture and the temperature, and things like the wind velocity and whether or not someone goes out, throws a cigarette out on the ground. So the season is not over yet, but we have been pretty lucky so far," said Selvog

The NRDC report will be released Thursday. It has Texas among 19 other states that could be the hit the worst. It will rank Texas on our potential wildfire activity, smoke pollution and action that can be taken to address the problem.

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