It never fails. When a natural disaster strikes, you can be sure that the global warming industrial complex will blame it on climate change. It’s their go to solution for every problem. Forget jihad and geopolitics: climate change caused even the civil war in Syria, according to National Geographic. Naturally, Hurricane Harvey is no exception. According to The Washington Times:
“Harvey is what climate change looks like,” meteorologist and climate activist Eric Holthaus declared Tuesday in Politico magazine.
Climate Reality Project, founded by former Vice President Al Gore, argued that “climate change makes hurricanes more devastating,” while 350.org called the storm “an unnatural disaster” and “the product of both a hotter planet and this administration’s climate denial, racism, and callousness.”
Climatologist and former Georgia Tech professor Dr. Judith Curry begs to differ. She points out that Harvey punctuates a record twelve-year extended period of no landfall for major hurricanes in the U.S. Although Harvey is massive, it is far from a record-breaker, ranking only fourteenth among the strongest U.S. hurricanes since 1851 measured by pressure.
Harvey has nothing to do with manmade climate change, and we can easily prove it. There has been no increase in the number of U.S. hurricane landfalls since 1900. In fact, the trend is sloping slightly downward. See graph below.
It’s not Greenhouse Gases
Blaming Harvey on greenhouse gases is unscientific and irresponsible, and it takes our focus away from real issues. The enormous destruction in Houston reflects a fact that has nothing to do with climate change: people build more buildings and infrastructure in hurricane prone areas along the coast. This increased “wealth density,” in combination with lax construction standards, has resulted in increasing weather related damages.
The most egregious example of that is Katrina catastrophe. For years, engineers had warned about the need to repair and upgrade the dikes protecting New Orleans but were ignored. With proper investment in storm protection, the situation wouldn’t have been nearly as severe.
It is too early to say whether Houston is a victim of corrupt and incompetent politicians, or if the rainfall truly was of such gargantuan proportions that no amount of infrastructure could have protected the city. Many countries in the world, such as the Netherlands, are accustomed to being struck hard by the forces of nature and live under such conditions that failure is not an option. Vast areas of the Netherlands lie under sea level and should the dikes protecting them ever fail it, would put the entire country in a state of emergency. Because they know this, they take the necessary precautions. Houston and other high-risk areas should do the same.
Blaming Harvey on climate change is cheap and easy. Dealing with and reducing the fallout of natural climate disasters is much harder and requires long-term planning and investment.