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“Harvey Is What Climate Change Looks Like: It’s time to open our eyes and prepare for the world that’s coming.” That August 28 Politico article by Slate weatherman Eric Holthaus was one of many trying too hard to blame the hurricane and/or flood on climate change.
I am an economist, not a climatologist. But blaming Harvey on climate change apparently demands much lower standards of logic and evidence than economists would dare describe as serious arguments.
Atlantic’s climate journalist said, “Harvey is unprecedented—just the kind of weird weather that scientists expect to see more of as the planet warms.” But Harvey’s maximum rainfall of 51.88 inches barely exceeded that from Tropical Storm Amelia in 1978 (48”) and Hurricane Easy in 1950 (45”). And what about Tropical Storm Claudette in 1979, which put down 42 inches in 24 hours near Houston (Harvey took three days to do that)? In such cases, attributing today’s extreme weather to “climate change” regardless of what happens (maybe droughts, maybe floods) is what the philosopher Karl Popper called “pseudoscience.” If some theory explains everything, it can’t be tested and it is therefore not science.