Tobold's Blog
Friday, September 01, 2017
An alternative explanation for Harvey

As a scientist I do believe in man-made global warming. So do the governments and the majority of citizens of every country in the world, except for Syria, Nicaragua, and the USA. The science says that global warming is likely to increase the occurrence and effect of catastrophic weather events. In particular an increase in the power of hurricanes and the amount of rain they carry has been predicted by the models years ago. Nobody is saying that hurricane Harvey is man-made, as hurricanes already existed long before man burning fossil fuel. But the fact that Harvey brought more rain than ever before observed on the American continent (the National Weather Service needed to add new colors to an expanded rain scale to map it) fits rather well with the predictions. So of course the US climate change deniers, first and foremost the Trump administration, react somewhat miffed if asked about climate change right now.

So I was thinking that one should keep an open mind and respect the believes of those who do not trust science. And I came up with an alternative explanation for Harvey which doesn't rely on science or an assumption of man-made climate change: Hurricane Harvey was an act of God, or more precisely the wrath of God. God sent Harvey to express his displeasure with the vain and godless Trump administration. Which is why he sent the hurricane to deeply Republican Texas, and not to Democratic California. In his mercy, God intended Harvey as a stern warning. If the USA doesn't get rid of Trump he will send further punishment, like heavenly fire (in the form of North Korean nukes). Repent now and kick Trump out, before it is too late!

I hope this inclusive multi-cultural approach makes my less scientific and more religious readers happy. :)

I don't think that there is anyone in the Trump administration who doesn't believe in man-made climate change:
You're hardly the first to make such proposals, a US sociology professor recently got fired for mooting that the storm was karma for Trump voters, and in the past televangelist Pat Robertson has speculated that various natural disasters are due to assorted offences against God and Nature (he differs on the exact offences against Nature that are responsible).

On the subject of hurricanes, I believe the jury is still out on whether a CO2 signal is visible, since hurricanes run a lot like poker winnings - highly variable and chaotic.

The big mystery for me: how does an essentially neutral effect like a small rise in average global temperature always result in predictions of doom? One would hardly like to go back to a glacial phase of the current Ice Age, after all. Yet public admissions or even speculations of the beneficial effects of global warming (even though some likely ones are obvious) are as rare as hens teeth.

Until we see those, the idea that science - as presented via scientific and media mouthpieces - is giving us objective information on global warming is a laughable lie.

I agree. Global warming will have some winners, as some regions in the world which are currently too cold for comfort will get a milder climate and better options for agriculture.

I think the reporting is one-sided because we tend to weigh impact by the number of people affected. And the worlds coldest and most inhospitable regions, let's say Siberia, are not very populated for the very reason that they are cold and inhospitable. So the advantage for Siberians who will one day be able to grow tomatoes is considered small compared to the disadvantage of some island nations which will be under water if the ice on the poles melts. There are a lot of people currently living in warm coastal regions, because over the millennia populations naturally migrated to where the conditions are favorable *now*.

So, global warming, bad for Texas and Florida, but good for Minnesota.
Coulter beat you to it spinning the story the other way, of course, in Coulter's version, Harvey was sent by God because Houston elected a lesbian mayor in 2010. Harvey, of course, is a joking reference by God to the famous gay activist Harvey Milk.

@Gerry Quinn. "how does an essentially neutral effect like a small rise in average global temperature always result in predictions of doom"

1. Your question is posed in a circular fashion. If we are to consider the question of whether small changes in average global temperature are generally benign or harmful, we can't start from the position of "they are essentially neutral" without begging the question.

2. To answer your question, consider a prediction of a small drop in global temperatures. Would that be presented as possibly "doom" ish? The answer is yes. As you point out, we're less than ten degrees of cooling away from another Ice Age, and ten degrees of warming from catastrophic Sea level rise. With unpredictable positive feedback loops possibly present in both directions past some threshold, it's correct to be cautious either way. To answer your question a different way: life on earth will be just fine, whether we go into another ice age, or another Carboniferous Epoch, the Earth will be covered with life. Now, if you want to look at whether humanity would suffer massive economic damage, with possible mass loss of life: then yes, those are both real possibilities, for two reasons: A humanity has set up infrastructure on this planet that is appropriate to the current average temperature, but small changes in either direction will render much of that investment useless. B: though as climate change denialists love to point out, small changes in global temperature are not unprecedented, what is left out from that is that the velocity of the changes the humanity is causing are indeed unprecedented. It's been hotter than it is now, but it's never gotten hotter this fast before, that we know of.
@Tobold "So the advantage for Siberians who will one day be able to grow tomatoes is considered small compared to the disadvantage of some island nations which will be under water if the ice on the poles melts"

This is essentially correct, although a clearer answer would account for the fact that A. Given severe enough climate change, most people on the earth will end up moving, so referring to people in one area as a winner, and those somewhere else as a loser, is imprecise, as you're using a variable for an identifier. It would be clearer to say that the economic damage done has to do with the lost economic improvements, both those lost since people are simply leaving their old homes, and to those improvements which are no longer appropriate to their area due to changing weather. Looking at Harvey as an example--as rainfall has already changed, humanities past investments in dams, canals, and all other water related infrastructure is no longer based on a reasonable expectation of future weather, but on an outdated and much less extreme weather pattern. Less and less water is arriving at the Hoover Dam every year, but more water is hitting Texas. previously dry houses are now sitting on new floodplains. Not all changes are zero sum. Sometimes the reporting is one sided because there's not another side. Siberians who don't want to live in Siberia should have already moved. If you go to Siberia and ask them if they want the temperature to go up ten degrees, followed by a mass influx of people coming in with guns and taking over their former tundra, now valuable tomato fields, they'd probably say no, they don't agree with Tobold that they win in such a situation, because it's hard to feel like you've won when you've just taken a bullet between the eyes.
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
"B: though as climate change denialists love to point out, small changes in global temperature are not unprecedented, what is left out from that is that the velocity of the changes the humanity is causing are indeed unprecedented. It's been hotter than it is now, but it's never gotten hotter this fast before, that we know of."

I may come back to address your other points later, but let me just say that I think the above is actually the Big Lie of the climate doomsters.

Global average temperatures may be rising faster than usual. But the only creatures that experience global temperature changes don't care. Are LOCAL climatic changes happening at an unprecedented rate? I'm betting the global signal has little effect here. I'm willing to be convinced otherwise, but where is the research? This is something that should be completely obvious and the propaganda always ignores it. Reputable papers like the UK Independent uncritically print reports that climate is changing 5000 times faster than grasses can adapt, and we'll all starve. In UK that was covered in ice 20000 years ago.
Just in case you think my last assertion is to insane to be believed:
Let me put this in a different way because for whatever reason saying what you're saying resulted in removal of my post...

My 19 month old son died 6 months ago.
I live in NC (another state that trump won)
My wife is Canadian.
I refused to vote.
By your logic my family is getting punished by God for living in a state that voted for trump.
Do you not see how insensitive and hateful your statement is?

You are saying that my son (or to reference your post people of Texas) deserved to die because trump is present...
It should be very clear that this is a post in mockery of climate change denial, not a serious suggestion. I believe in God, but I don't think he manifests himself in hurricanes and the like. That is very much old testament.

Furthermore the mocking suggestion is that God is angry with Trump, not with the people affected. Nowhere do I say that anybody deserved to die (and the number of people who died in Texas is comparatively small to the 1,200 people dead in India, Bangladesh, and and Nepal floods at the same time). I only jokingly suggested that Trump is hurt more by the wrath of God hitting Texas than he would be by a similar event in California.

However I would seriously suggest that a government policy of climate change denial today is likely to lead to a certain number of deaths in the future. For which I would again blame Trump, not the people who voted for him. I don't think there is a large number of people who voted for Trump only because of his stance towards global warming.
Climate deniers are rapidly approaching flat earthers in terms of entertainment in how they twist themselves to justify what they believe to be true.

Also I don't think it's accurate that most in the US don't believe in climate change. There is a scary amount that don't, including the alternate facts clown show of an administration we have now, but it's not the majority. Just like the majority in the US didn't vote for Trump, but that system is what it is.
So Harvey is basically the first of Ten Plagues of the USA?
Why do you say that Nicaragua and Syria don't believe in global warming? Considering that Nicaragua didn't sign the Paris accords because they deemed them not strict enough, I think that no other country believes as much as them.
The quantity and scope of hurricanes are so variable that I don't think scientists, as opposed to reporters and activists, will be able to use them in my lifetime to say anything meaningful about climate change. The first two houses I lived in, Florida and Mississipi, were subsequently destroyed by hurricanes, the first over 25 years ago.
Regarding science, I find that a number of people who are defending science re climate change show a lot less reverence for it if you change the subject to GMO foods being safe and no benefit to paying for organic. IMO, the percentage of people who believe in science - for climate change and GMO safe and organic not valuable and vacines are safe - is pretty low.

Pretty low where? On Breitbart, yes. In the world, no.

For example in Germany less than 1% of parents don't vaccinate their children, in spite of there being no legal obligation to do so. While people might express doubts about the safety of GMO food, they buy it every day, more so in the US than in Europe. And the number of people not believing in climate change is extremely low outside the USA.
I would hope that human ability to adapt to climate change is also growing though.

Including human ability to adapt "staple foods" to temperature/weather changes - with direct genetic modifications and other techniques, or simply replacing/complementing existing ones with new ones (as it happened with Russia and potatoes, now considered staple food). That would prevent most drastic "people starving to death because of climate change/flood of famine immigrants" doom scenarios.

Building defences against any kind of rainfall/hurricane is probably technically possible too - even if not necessarily cheap.

But "ability" doesn't necessarily mean actual preparations, especially when we talk about once-in-a-century or once-in-millenia events.

Planning for kind of eventuality like Harvey had to happen long in advance of actual event, with good room for error, and that generally only happens after current "defences" fail multiple times.

And not all such "disaster events" where planning fails are global-warming related. For example, Fukushima disaster happened because tsunami tide reached levels last seen in 869 - and that wasn't even most powerful or deadly earthquake in just this century for Earth overall...
Ah! We are seeing the wrath of God for having forsaken the Lightworker Obama's (pbuh) chosen successor!

Or you could see that this is the first hurricane to strike the US in ten years, quite a record. As you have noted, the loss of life was minimal. If this is global warming, sign me up!
Not that it will do any good, but regardless of what the average global temperature is doing, Harvey was a unique event due to unique weather circumstances that blocked it from moving inland like hurricanes hitting the southern Texas coast usually do. If you want to know why a hurricane behaves they way it is behaving, listen to hurricane experts, not climatologists. Saying that it caused more rainfall because of global warming is stupid. You could maybe make a case that because the western Gulf of Mexico was ~ .5c warmer than average that it intensified faster, but it's hard to put the cause of that part of the Gulf being slightly warmer at that time on global warming because sea surface temperatures fluctuate all the time.
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