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  • Five Key Lessons (and Challenges) from the Great Texas Drought

    Five Key Lessons (and Challenges) from the Great Texas Drought

    By Marc Airhart
    Jackson School of Geosciences
    Published: Sept. 10, 2012

    Scientists at UT-Austin are at the forefront of research to make the state better prepared for future water shortages. Five key lessons (and challenges) from the state’s worst single-year drought in history.

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    • Quote 2
      Mike Swift said on Sept. 15, 2012 at 2:15 a.m.
      LFTR, (Liquid fluoride Thorium Reactor), developed in the late nineteen sixties could eliminate the need to use water for cooling. An artifact of their need to operate at very high temperatures eliminates the need for cooling water, also the high temperature of their, “cold side”, allows the use of air as a coolant, or use it as, “free” ,desalination plant heat.
    • Quote 2
      Michael Johnson, UT BSME 1997 said on Sept. 14, 2012 at 1:57 p.m.
      It is unfortunate that each generation has to relearn the same lessons the hard way. My family has been in Texas continuously since March 28, 1835. My mother (1914-1978) kept a daily diary from 1929-1939, during the Dust Bowl. She was raised on a farm in Lockney, Texas in the Panhandle. The drought last year was nothing compared to what Texans endured during that ten-year period. If you want to understand Texas land and water rights, and why they are so different from the rest of the United States, I suggest you read this 1931 book: From "The Great Plains", by Walter Prescott Webb, University of Nebraska Press, 1931: The most persistent and harmful vagary in the West is the notion that “ the country is becoming more seasonable." This misconception has grown out of two facts: the first is that men hope that rainfall will increase, and this hope is father to the thought that it has increased; the second is that we have precipitation cycles which last over a number of years. In some years rainfall will be plentiful, abundant, and in some cases too heavy. In such years practically everybody concludes that the country is getting more seasonable. It is these wet years, which are years of plenty in the Great Plains, that bring out the thousands of immigrants from the eastern section [defined as all of the United States east of the 98th meridian], where perhaps they have been drowned out. But just as surely as night follows the day, the few wet years are followed by about the same number of dry ones. Then the shadow of the drought sweeps over the land, driving back the weak and the faint-hearted. The United States government officials, especially of the Weather Bureau, have warned the people over and over for nearly half a century that there is no basis for the belief that climate in any place is subject to appreciable change, either in temperature or rainfall. In a given decade the mean average rainfall will not vary from another decade by so much as an inch. Having convinced themselves that nature had set aside at least one of her long-established laws for their benefit, the people are compelled by logic to find an explanation for this whimsical exception.
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