In the wake of Hurricane Harvey we’ve seen no shortage of liberal pundits blaming it on climate change – but the one thing we haven’t seen is actual climate scientists making such a bold claim.
— Cenk Uygur (@cenkuygur) August 28, 2017
Given that hurricanes are something that have always existed, how could one immediately claim that Harvey was caused by climate change? Surprise: they can’t.
As the Daily Caller reports,
After a deluge of media reports surfaced linking global warming to Hurricane Harvey, University of Washington atmospheric scientist Cliff Mass analyzed the available data to see just how big a role human emissions of greenhouse gases played in the storm.
“And the results are clear: human-induced global warming played an inconsequential role in this disaster,” Mass wrote in a blog post debunking claims that Harvey was fueled by man-made warming.
Harvey made landfall as a Category 4 hurricane in late August, dumping record levels of rain over the greater Houston area as it stalled over land before moving back out into the Gulf of Mexico.
The New York Times and CNN featured articles linking Harvey to global warming. Climate Scientist Michael Mann said sea level rise and ocean warming made Harvey more intense. Mass took issue with such claims.
Climate scientist Kevin Trenberth suggested that 30 percent of the rain Harvey dumped over Texas could be attributed to human activities, but Mass found little evidence to support that theory.
“They are using hand-waving arguments to push an agenda, which observations, theory, and modeling show to be incorrect,” Mass wrote. “Global warming is a serious issue and mankind must deal with it, but hype and exaggeration of the current effects is counterproductive in the long term.”
Mass first took aim at claims that warmer than normal Gulf of Mexico temperatures allowed Harvey to dump more rain over Texas and Louisiana, exacerbating flooding. Mass looked at the data and found there’s been “modest” warming in the Gulf, but temperatures in the week leading up to the storm were near normal.
Mass also found that hurricane season precipitation around Houston has shown, if anything, a slightly downward trend over the past 50 years, suggesting that global warming isn’t playing much of a role in the region’s rainfall.
“There is no evidence that global warming is influencing Texas coastal precipitation in the long term and little evidence that warmer than normal temperatures had any real impact on the precipitation intensity from this storm,” Mass wrote.
While it’s true that higher temperatures can exacerbate the effects of hurricanes, that’s a stretch from being able to claim that they cause them. And as previously mentioned, temperatures leading up to Hurricane Harvey were near-normal, meaning there’s little room for climate change to have played a role in worsening its effects.