Making politically correct hay out of Hurricane Harvey

Predictably, the politically correct are trying to turn the impact of Hurricane Harvey into arguments in favor of their various causes – particularly climate change.  To take just one example, last weekend Nicholas Kristof fretted in the New York Times:

Scott Pruitt, President Trump’s head of the Environmental Protection Agency, says it’s “misplaced” to talk about Harvey and climate change.

Really? To me, avoiding the topic is like a group of frogs sitting in a beaker, fretting about the growing warmth of the water but neglecting to jump out. Climate scientists are in agreement that there are at least two ways climate change is making hurricanes worse.

First, hurricanes arise from warm waters, and the Gulf of Mexico has warmed by two to four degrees Fahrenheit over the long-term average. The result is more intense storms.

“There is a general consensus that the frequency of high-category (3, 4 and 5) hurricanes should increase as the climate warms,” Kerry Emanuel, a hurricane expert at M.I.T., tells me. Likewise, three experts examined the data over 30 years and concluded that Atlantic tropical cyclones are getting stronger.

Second, as the air warms, it holds more water vapor, so the storms dump more rain. That’s why there’s a big increase in heavy downpours (“extreme precipitation events”). Nine of the top 10 years for heavy downpours in the U.S. have occurred since 1990.

“Climate change played a role in intensifying the winds and rainfall associated with Hurricane Harvey,” says Charles Greene, a climate scientist at Cornell. He notes that there’s also a third way, not yet proven, in which climate change may be implicated: As Arctic sea ice is lost, wind systems can meander and create blockages — like those that locked Harvey in place over Houston. It was this stalling that led Harvey to be so destructive.

Frankly, it’s staggering that there’s still so much resistance among elected officials to the idea of human-caused climate change.

There’s more at the link.

However, it turns out that “climate scientists” are anything but united about how anthropogenic climate change is affecting storms such as Hurricane Harvey.  The Wall Street Journal noted:

Who says progressives don’t believe in religion? They may not believe in Jehovah or Jesus, but they certainly believe in Old Testament-style wrath against sinners. Real Noah and the Ark stuff. Witness the emerging theme on the media left that Texas, and especially Houston, are at fault for the devastation of Hurricane Harvey.

. . .

“Harvey, the Storm That Humans Helped Cause,” said a headline in one progressive bellwether as the storm raged. An overseas columnist was less subtle if more clichéd: “Houston, you have a problem, and some of it of your own making.” In this telling, Houston is the Sodom and Gomorrah of fossil fuels, which cause global warming, which is producing more hurricanes.

The problem is that this argument is fact-free. As Roger Pielke Jr. has noted, the link between global warming and recent hurricanes and extreme weather events is “unsupportable based on research and evidence.” Mr. Pielke, who is no climate-change denier, has shown with data that hurricanes hitting the U.S. have not increased in frequency or intensity since 1900, there is no notable trend up or down in global tropical cyclone landfalls since 1970, and floods have not increased in frequency or intensity in the U.S. since 1950.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration recently said that “it is premature to conclude that human activities—and particularly greenhouse gas emissions that cause global warming—have already had a detectable impact on Atlantic hurricane or global tropical cyclone activity.”

No less than the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change says it lacks evidence to show that global warming is making storms and flooding worse. But climate scolds still blame Harvey on climate change because, well, this is what the climate models say should happen as the climate warms.

In other words, Houstonians, you’d better go to climate confession, mend your sinful ways, and give up all of those high-paying oil-and-gas jobs. Maybe all those drillers and refiners can work for Google or Facebook.

Again, more at the link (which may disappear behind a paywall).

I have no problem whatsoever believing in climate change as a generic, ongoing reality.  After all, the climate’s been changing every year since this planet developed a climate!  The question is, are humans causing it?  I suspect our influence is much less than alarmists would have us believe.  After all, the so-called “Medieval Warm Period” saw higher temperatures than we experience today;  the so-called “Maunder Minimum” saw much colder temperatures than at present.  Both are evidence of climate change, but not of anthropogenic (i.e. human-caused) climate change.  Natural disasters such as the eruption of volcanoes are yet another factor in climate change;  indeed, the Toba super-eruption, some 75,000 years ago, may have led to a 1,000-year period of global cooling known as a “volcanic winter”.

It’s going to be fun when alarmists for one aspect of climate change collide head-on with those from another background or school of thought.  For example, there are those who believe that current low sunspot activity levels may presage a new period of global cooling, similar to the Maunder Minimum.  It’s even being referred to as an imminent “mini-Ice Age”.  On the other hand, it’s been argued that low solar activity might offset global warming, even perhaps cancelling it out altogether.  So, global warming?  Global cooling?  Who knows? – and, among those who claim they know, how can they prove their respective cases?  The answer, of course, is that they can’t.  We don’t yet know enough about global weather and temperatures to say for sure.  Despite all claims to the contrary, the science is not settled.  Follow these three links for more discussion of the issues involved.

I just shrug my shoulders and get on with the business of living.  When the experts can’t agree, I have to make the best judgment call I can, based on incomplete and/or inadequate information.  Since I can’t do anything to change or affect this sort of influence on my life, I’d better be ready, willing and able to deal with its consequences, whatever they may be.  That may not be politically correct, but it is, at least, a practical solution.

Now . . . do I need a climate-change-powered barbecue grill in the back yard, to take advantage of all the heat that’s coming our way, or a flash freezing facility, to preserve the food I won’t be able to grow in the extreme cold?



  1. Forecasts for rain from Harvey in our location were over 20 inches in 3 days, as the storm progressed, they lowered it to about 18 inches. On Monday, we got the last bit of rain, and it totaled 1.5 inches over 3 days. Forecast winds were 60 mph gusts, 40 mph sustained…. actual were 25 mph with 40 mph gusts….

    If you computer model gets a 72 hour forecast wrong, how do I trust your 100 year model?

  2. I just shrug my shoulders and get on with the business of living.
    As do your readers and those of a similar mindset.

    But Yankees just can't bring themselves to do that, can they ?
    They MUST tell others how wrong they are.
    And, "Yankee" is a school of thought, not a location.

    – Charlie

  3. Sigh… NOTHING we or anyone else can do is going to change this one damn bit… At this point, the whole issue is nothing more than white noise, not even worth tuning out.

  4. Humm. They say the planet has been around 4,500,000,000 years. We humans have been keeping detailed weather records for 150 years, maybe. Could be, we don't have enough data to predict do-diddly-squat with any accuracy.

  5. We just had the coolest August in decades. When Harvey moved up the Ohio valley, it actually cooled things down to where we had lots of rain and highs in the 60's – jacket weather.

  6. "do I need a climate-change-powered barbecue grill in the back yard, to take advantage of all the heat that's coming our way, or a flash freezing facility, to preserve the food I won't be able to grow in the extreme cold?"

    In my experience, you would be smart to bet against the Environmental hysterics; in the decades that I have been paying attention to them, they have not ALWAYS gotten it wrong, but that is the trend.

  7. In the city I live in, for the first three years after I moved here the August temperatures were in the above 100's for the last two weeks. That was in 1985.

    Since then, haven't seen a week of above 97 temps yet.

    And all the 'ohmygoshwearegonnaburn' idiots run around when the temp is a balmy 92.

    Orange groves grew all over Florida, all the way up to the Georgia line, but all of the ones north of Orlando froze in the late 70's. (And I remember snow in Satellite Beach in 1973.) Yet people whine here if it gets below the mid-60's.

    People just can't be happy with what they have.

  8. No matter your position on the cause, the solutions being trotted out are UNIVERSALLY worse for society than the change itself…IMHO of course.

  9. My frustration comes from two sources. First, for the communities that are (most often) in the path of these *annual* storms, what sorts of storm- mitigation changes have been made? Second, every freaking year people insist on rebuilding *exactly the way it was last time.*

    I'd never live in a flood plain (or tornado alley), but if you've been flooded out three times in the last five years, isn't it time to move for higher ground? I have sympathy for people who experience a 50yr or 100yr flood, but not for the people who get flooded regularly.

    Part of the problem certainly is zoning — we're building in areas that just aren't suitable (flood plains, marshes, etc); but what really makes my blood boil is that people don't seem to *learn* from these annual storms.

  10. Deplorable me:

    If people are re-building in the same spot, without elevating it, there are only two reasons: terminal stupidity, or SOMEONE ELSE is paying the costs. Get the damn government out of insurance, and most of the stupidity will no longer be involved.

  11. I say go with a flash barbecuing facility …

    The envirowhackos will leave you alone once they realise that they can't blow smoke up your backside without you returning the favour. 🙂

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