In the spirit of Saul Alinsky’s principle of never letting a good crisis go to waste, a number of media outlets are using the devastation wrought by Harvey to argue that extreme weather such as the hurricane is the result of human caused climate change. However, a number of prominent climate scientists disagree with this assessment, according to the Washington Times.

Why Harvey was not the result of human caused climate change

Judith Curry, a retired Georgia Tech professor, and a climate change skeptic, noted that Harvey is ranked 14th regarding pressure among storms dating back to the mid 19th Century.

Roger Pielke Jr., a professor at the University of Colorado Center for Science & Technology Policy Research, noted an inconvenient truth concerning a link between intense storms and climate change. In the 43 years between 1926 and 1969, 14 category 4 or greater hurricanes made landfall in the United States. Since then, a period of 47 years, exactly four have hit the country. During the Obama presidency, only four hurricanes of any size hit the United States.

The theory being posited by climate change advocates is that warmer oceans and a wetter atmosphere are or at least should be causing stronger hurricanes. Roy W. Spencer, a principal research scientist at the University of Alabama in Huntsville, noted that major hurricanes that struck Texas since 1870 were not affected by above or below average temperatures in the Gulf of Mexico.

Why was Harvey so destructive then?

Spencer notes that Harvey dumped as much as 50 inches of rain over the Houston area within a few days because it stalled inland due to a high-pressure system which has nothing to do with climate change. Had it moved inland as ordinary hurricanes tend to do the rain would have been dispersed over a wider area and Harvey would have dissipated quicker than it did.

Contributing to the destruction was the fact that the Houston area has an inadequate infrastructure for flood drainage.

So why all the talk about climate change?

Part of the reason so many people, including those who ought to know better, are pushing climate change as a cause of Harvey is that they are suffering from confirmation bias.

Human caused global warming is alleged to be an established fact. Harvey was an unusually destructive hurricane. The first must have a lot to do with the other, never mind the mountain of evidence to the contrary.

Others, of course, see an opportunity to stampede people into accepting drastic and, in many ways, destructive measures to mitigate against climate change, even if it means increasing government power and strangling the world economy. A number of things should be undertaken as a result of Harvey, including improving the Gulf Coast’s infrastructure’s ability to deal with extreme storms like Harvey. However, tilting at global warming windmills would be just a distraction.