Climate change did not “cause” Harvey, but it’s a huge part of the story

I posted a few minutes ago about Harvey and how it might be in some part caused by climate change. But we need to be specific about these kinds of things (or all trust in science ever goes out the window… it’s not fair but there it is).

And this article over at Vox does a great job of doing just that.


1) Harvey is not centrally about climate change

2) “Did climate change cause Harvey?” is a malformed question

3) Yes, climate change made Harvey worse

4) We don’t know if climate change is making hurricanes more likely

5) We know climate change is making severe downpours more likely

6) Climate change is nowhere near the biggest determinant of Harvey’s damages, but it’s in there

7) Adapting to climate change is very, very different than mitigating it

8) Without mitigation, adaptation is a cruel joke, and Harvey shows why

9) Climate change is part of every story now, including Harvey

“That means climate change is part of every story now. The climate we live in shapes agriculture, it shapes cities and economies and trade, it shapes culture and learning, it shapes human conflict. It is a background condition of all these stories, and its changes are reflected in them. So we’ve got to get past this “did climate change cause it?” argument. A story like Harvey is primarily a set of local narratives, about the lives immediately affected. But it is also part of a larger narrative, one developing over decades and centuries, with potentially existential stakes.

We’ve got to find a way to weave those narratives together while respecting and doing justice to both.”

Caused by moisture and warm air and high pressure, like normal hurricanes.