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Politicizing Harvey in the Houston Chronicle

By Charles Battig -- September 6, 2017

“Just think of how the tens of billions of dollars spent on trying to link CO2 emissions to climate change might have prevented some of the Harvey-caused tragedy, if they had been spent instead on flood-plain infrastructure and management updates these past twelve years.”

In addition to the pictures and media reports on Hurricane Harvey, there are news reports implicating the hand of man, not nature, for the tragic impact. For them, Harvey becomes another opportunity to invoke climate change as a novel event in the intensity and path of this hurricane.

In the Houston ChronicleGray Matters” September 1, 2017, Allyn West gathered together snippets of commentary by several authors and presented his version of the “big picture” of the flooding in Houston. It mirrors similar claims in the Los Angeles Times. The takeaway is that the chicken has come home to roost in hydrocarbon-capital Houston.

Bad Facts

The minimally informed reader would know that what follows need be taken with more than the proverbial “grain of salt” when West begins: “But before we ask any questions, let’s state a fact as plainly as possible: This is the worst storm the U.S. has ever seen.”  But by what measure? Since when? Respected meteorologist Joe Bastardi says otherwise.

Has West studied the Great Galveston Hurricane, a Category 4 storm which made landfall on September 8, 1900, leaving about 6,000 to 12,000 dead? It was and remains today, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), “the deadliest natural disaster in American history.”

What is an abnormal climate event for Houston? No hurricane activity for twelve years or Harvey?

West quotes Mark Fischetti (Scientific American) and his “stunning, almost cartoonish graphics show the volume of water and scale of a storm worsened by the impact of climate change on a vulnerable region that just keeps getting inundated, one once-in-a-lifetime event after another.” How many once-in-a-lifetime events can occur, and on the geological time scale, how meaningful is a life-time yardstick? (Note that “climate change” is not quantified, nor attributed as natural or man-made.)

Next, West quotes Rice University’s Jim Blackburn who tells the Daily Beast:

(Houston’s) engineering is based on old statistics that don’t take climate change into account. We spend all our time in this part of the world denying climate change, but that keeps us from asking the important questions. I think this event has opened up that issue.

Who is this “we.” If Rice University is not already teaching their engineering students how to encompass risk management of all types into their future designs, why not? Are those at Rice “denying climate change”? Climate change is a defining attribute of geological history; why would faculty deny climate change?  No one minimally informed on climate topics denies the established fact of constant climate change.

Further into the same edition of the Houston Chronicle, Ron Sass (also a Rice professor) claim:

According to measurements taken by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the temperature of the waters of the Gulf of Mexico just off the Texas coast before Harvey arrived was 2.7 to 7.2 degrees Fahrenheit hotter than “normal”, making it one of the hottest bodies of water in the world. This above average temperature is a relatively new circumstance and different from past storms.

Contrast this claim with the extensively documented paper by University of Washington professor of atmospheric Sciences, Cliff Mass:

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.

Global Weather Oscillations (GWO) veteran meteorologist David Dilley had predicted this past February that the 2017 Atlantic hurricane season would be “the most dangerous and costliest in 12 years for the United States.” His analysis of Harvey: Hurricane Expert’s Forecast Spot On…Says “It’s all Cyclical” …”Nothing To Do With Global Warming”

These Rice professors also state: “Climate scientists have told us for the last two decades that one of the risks of climate change is a higher frequency of severe storm events.” And: “Every major coastal city in the world will be facing these same issues as well as sea level rise, another looming issue.”

Apparently they are unaware of the summary view of sea-level expert Nils Axel-Mörner: “CO2 has little to negligible effects on climate, and sea level is by no means in a rapidly rising mode.”

Intellectual Heat?

It is a bit rich for these two professors to include also this fatuous and hypocritical comment.:

Employees of the State of Texas and various units of local government are afraid that they will be fired if they mention climate change. In many circles, “weird weather” is Texas code for climate change. Imagine that — having to talk in code because of the political implications of science.

Scientific challenges to the dogmatic claim that man is responsible for clearly identifiable and quantifiable climate change as the result of fossil fuel use and resultant CO2 emissions have been cause for the summary firing of state climatologists in Maryland, Virginia, and Oregon, as well as career EPA scientists.

“The science is settled” refrain is used to silence challenges to this political dogma. Try to get a grant at Rice University to study the benefits of fossil fuel use and CO2 increase in the atmosphere.  Try to get an article like this published in the Houston Chronicle. Imagine that!

Opportunity Cost?

We will see if the Houston Chronicle will publish a rebuttal to CO2-driven Harvey as the emotionalism of climate alarmists’ ‘gotcha’ subsides. Maybe even hometown hurricane expert Neil Frank will set them straight.

One final thought. Just think of how the tens of billions of dollars spent on trying to link CO2 emissions to climate change might have prevented some of the Harvey caused tragedy, if they had been spent instead on flood-plain infrastructure and management updates these past twelve years.

Those research billions spent have yet to prove a quantifiable linkage to catastrophic climate change and CO2 emissions, but their squandering in that pursuit has left Houston lacking storm water infrastructure updates, but  have left it undeniably under water.


  1. Thinking about Harvey – three weeks later - blogHOUSTON  

    […] Politicizing Harvey in the Houston Chronicle – Charles Battig, Master Resource […]


  2. Houston Chronicle: Preaching Climate Alarmism Post Harvey - Master Resource  

    […] documented the bias in the hometown paper in a September 6 post at MasterResource: “Politicizing Harvey in the Houston Chronicle.” He […]


  3. Al Gore at Rice University: More Climate Alarmism, Political Bias - Master Resource  

    […] The propagandists are hard at work trying to make Houston, Texas, ground zero in the cause of climate alarmism and a carbon tax. The Houston Chronicle, run out of New York, in effect with their ideology, incessantly ran stories of Hurricane Harvey being a man-made anomaly (see my Houston Chronicle: Preaching Climate Alarmism Post Harvey and Charles Battig’s Politicizing Harvey in the Houston Chronicle.) […]


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