As Houston lays flooded by Hurricane Harvey, the liberal media and climate alarmists raced to connect the natural disaster to their manmade global warming agenda in spite of scientific disagreement.
On broadcast and cable news, MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow and Thomas Roberts, CBS fill-in co-host Dana Jacobson, CNN’s Jeffrey Toobin and others tried to link Harvey to human-caused global warming. The Los Angeles Times editorial board said the hurricane “should be a warning to Trump that climate change is a global threat.” One newspaper editor in Australia even used the disaster as an opportunity to attack ExxonMobil and promote the “ExxonKnew” crusade.
The environment editor of The Sydney Morning Herald (Australia) Peter Hannam wished Houston’s citizens safety, but callously wrote “Yes, Houston, you do have a problem, and — as insensitive as it is seems to bring it up just now — some of it is your own making.”
He blasted the “self-styled ‘world capital of the oil and gas industry’” too, saying “there’s a connection between rising global greenhouse gas levels and the extreme weather now being inflicted” with Hurricane Harvey. Hannam also went on to cite anti-ExxonMobil allegations claiming the oil company “deliberately told the public a story at odds with their own research.”
Politico published “Harvey Is What Climate Change Looks Like,” written by meteorologist Eric Holthaus who contributes to the left-wing eco-site Grist.
MSNBC Live anchor Thomas Roberts urged Aerisweather founder Paul Douglas to provide the “bigger picture” about Harvey devastation, asking, “explain why this could be more to do with climate change.”
Douglas told Roberts and MSNBC viewers, “Well, certainly climate change, a warmer climate is now flavoring all weather, Thomas. Weather and climate are flipsides of the same coin.” He also said the warmer than average water helped make it a worse storm, with more rainfall.
Climatologist Dr. Judith Curry disagreed and said, “Anyone blaming Harvey on global warming doesn’t have a leg to stand on.” She attributed to “huge amounts of rain” to the hurricane’s “stalled movement” over Texas.
But many others continued making those arguments. Penn State scientist Michael Mann, a climate alarmist most famous for the criticized Hockey Stick graph of global warming, loudly proclaimed from The Guardian “It’s a fact: climate change made Hurricane Harvey more deadly.”
Mann refused to say climate change “caused” Harvey, but insisted, “Harvey was almost certainly more intense than it would have been in the absence of human-caused warming, which means stronger winds, more wind damage and a larger storm surge.” He went on to make additional “more tenuous” possible connections in his op-ed.
Many other liberal media outlets including CNN, NPR and Time websites and a cadre of far-left media like The Intercept, Mother Jones, Vox, Common Dreams, Think Progress and The Atlantic — all sought to connect Harvey to manmade climate change. Think Progress said it “seems clear climate change strengthened Hurricane Harvey” making its rainfall worse and “creating larger and more dangerous storm surge.”
Liberal activist Naomi Klein not only declared it “exactly the time to talk about climate change,” but also the time to discuss “all the other systemic injustices — from racial profiling to economic austerity — that turn disasters like Harvey into human catastrophes.”
She whined that “you won’t hear much, if any, talk about climate change,” in connection with the Harvey disaster — proving she either wasn’t reading and watching coverage of the disaster, or ignored it to argue her point.
NPR’s breaking news section included the article, “How a Warmer Climate Helped Shape Harvey” on Aug. 28. The article itself was not as insistent as its headline. It claimed climate change “may have helped” the storm’s formation and strength (because of warmer water temperatures) and cited estimates climate change could have “contributed” to the humidity too — but acknowledged the extent of that possibility “is difficult to say.
Time.com lamented that the media have so often been told the “unsatisfying answer” that “no individual event” can be blamed on climate change, but cheered “that may be changing.” Time turned to the World Weather Attribution group of scientists which claims it can evaluate the global warming impact on individual weather events.
“As extreme weather events increase in severity and frequency in the coming years, scientists say the odds are increasing that there eventually will be a storm that they can unequivocally say would not have occurred without climate change,” Time writer Justin Worland wrote.
Also promoting the “extreme weather” rhetoric so popular with the left, The Atlantic declared that “Harvey is unprecedented — just the kind of weird weather that scientists expect to see more of as the planet warms.”
Climatologist Dr. Roy Spencer pointed out the problem of comparing floods from different times in history “because [of] the ways in which we alter the landscape.”
He wrote on his website on Aug. 28, that Houston’s flooding “isn’t a sign of climate change,” even though it is “very unusual.”
“Major floods are difficult to compare throughout history because the ways in which we alter the landscape. For example, as cities like Houston expand over the years, soil is covered up by roads, parking lots, and buildings, with water rapidly draining off rather than soaking into the soil. The population of Houston is now ten times what it was in the 1920s. The Houston metroplex area has expanded greatly and the water drainage is basically in the direction of downtown Houston,” Spencer wrote.
He noted flooding all the way back to the mid-1800s in Houston, including a 1935 event where water levels topped out at 54.4 feet. He called the storm’s stall “luck of the draw” — not part of global warming theory, and reminded readers there have been only four Category 4 or higher hurricanes to hit the U.S. since 1970.
Comparing that number to prior years “we can’t say that we are experiencing more intense hurricanes in recent decades,” Spencer concluded.