The Effect Increased San Marcos Populations has on Climate Change

SAN MARCOS — San Marcos’ population growth has a significant impact on the climate which has caused rising temperatures during the summer and prolonged droughts.

As more people continue to move into the San Marcos area, it can have a significant impact on the climate which ultimately affect the environment. One of the most important resources that can help combat human impact on the environment is being well informed and involved. There are many resources available to residents of San Marcos one of which includes the Texas State Office of Sustainability.

President Jengo Wiley Russell,22, of San Marcos said the Sustainability Squad organization collaborates with other student organizations to improve sustainability through volunteering and networking.

“Whilst people think of sustainability to be mainly an environmental thing, it is broader. It is an overarching umbrella and so we do a lot of environmental volunteering and impact, which I think is super needed and that is a huge, huge issue that we should be addressing,” said Russell.

Robert Mace, Executive Director and Chief Water Policy Officer at The Meadows Center for Water and the Environment and a Professor of Practice in the Department of Geography and Environmental Studies at Texas State University, said how educating and gathering research made possible through money awarded to The Meadows Center for Water and the Environment is propelling the discussion of climate change to the next level.

“But the reality is, is that until there’s a change in perception of climate change at the highest levels of state government, nothing’s going to change on the state side,” said Mace. “So given that that we don’t expect changes in the near future, we’re also going to provide suggestions to the Regional Water planning groups and how they can build climate change in the current planning process. So, there’s little things that you can do to plan for droughts, which is how the plants are developed today, which is the worst drought that we’ve seen over the last 100 years.”

Mace further explained that the research conducted in the water initiative program thus far has not only reinforced the facts that increased populations in an area contribute to climate change, however, the discovery of the type of people who are more conscious of water resources.

“One interesting little tidbit is that people who don’t believe in climate change are more concerned about their water resources than the people who do believe in climate change, which is, yeah, it’s a bit surprising,” said Mace. “So, love this, love to see that as a researcher cause like, that’s unexpected, and so then the question is you know, ok well why is that?”

Also due to rising temperatures, droughts have lasted for longer and longer periods of time. Since the climate normalcy is vastly different throughout the world, there is not any one set of criteria that can be used to identify a drought that the entire world can use. However, whether it be long or short-term, the impacts a drought has on the ecosystem in an area will eventually come back to negatively affect human everyday life. The damage done to the ecosystem during a drought can affect plants and wildlife species.

Purgatory Creek is a trail area which protects grasslands, wetlands, forests as well as many animal species such as the endangered Golden Cheeked-Warbler. The Warbler nests entirely in central Texas and they depend on the ash, juniper and oak trees found on these trails, using their bark for nesting material. This bird is considered endangered due to rapid human development in the area which is causing displacement and the loss and destruction of its native natural habitat.

Discovery Center Manager Eric Weeks, 34, of San Marcos said that there are several other rare and endangered animal species in the area being affected by the increased development and populations in San Marcos.

“The spring system is home to a lot of endangered and threatened aquatic species, many that are only found in this area in the entire world,” said Weeks. “A few to name are the Fountain Darter, Texas Wild Rice, Saint Marcus Salamander and a few other species that live in the actual aquifer.”

Weeks further explained that plant vegetation, such as the ones monarch butterflies rely on for migrations, are also rapidly disappearing because of droughts and the loss of their habitat due to land development and widespread spraying of pesticides which kill the plants.

“A couple milkweeds that are native to the Central Texas area that we focus on are antelope, corn and then zygotes. So those are two local native milkweeds that monarchs prefer,” said Weeks. “So those are the ones that we try to source and grow to provide for high quality habitat.”

Increased populations in San Marcos are leading to high temperatures and droughts which proves more than ever the large role humans have in the struggle with climate change. However, if this issue is spoken about more and gradual action is taken place, then the environment can slowly heal for future generations.

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