I’m sure you know that any one weather event cannot be attributed to climate change. Really, the right thing to say is “It’s the weather, stupid”.

But like many others, you wish to use the current disaster to insist it proves global warming and then to further assert that massive changes are immediately needed or we will all die real soon. The science may say the world is getting hotter; what it doesn’t say is that the Paris Treaty is good deal.

People who don’t support that treaty are unfairly tarred as climate change deniers. However, no intelligent commentator is denying climate change. What we’re denying is the implicit assumption you are making that the climate will remain stable if we only cede all control to a world government empowered to stop US coal production or sign on to a treaty that lets others build coal plants like there’s no tomorrow and requires us to pay billions to help them.

The science says the world’s climate is changing and has always been changing since the earth came into existence. Recently we had the Little Ice Age and before that the Medieval Warm Period. 11,000 years ago huge glaciers covered parts of North America and Europe and the sea level was so low you could walk from Siberia to Alaska. We’ve been through major changes in climate and our species has been very good at adapting to them. It hasn’t been pain-free but the damage has been nothing like the apocalyptic sky-is-falling disaster you warn us of.

How much industrial CO2 production will raise the temperature over what it otherwise would have been is one of those unknowables. Maybe the extra CO2 will stimulate plants who will consume most of it- a mechanism for homeostasis. Or maybe we will go on a runaway feedback loop. What is clear is that the strategy of limiting CO2 production is a bad one. It’s too costly, too uncertain, and possibly unnecessary. A proper accounting also should balance the uncertain benefits far in the future against the definite costs incurred in the present by any policy for coping with climate change.

The damage from Harvey could been greatly reduced if we hadn’t built a major city on swampland. Extensive blacktop and concrete reduced absorption and drainage capacity and so made flooding more prevalent upstream than it would have been. It’s not just the storm: it’s our lack of intelligent policy on land development and flood insurance that exacerbated the disaster.

A much better strategy than paying bureaucrats and diplomats to cripple our industrial infrastructure is to adapt to change. Policies that preserve wetlands, that promote building away from the coast and on higher ground are some relatively low cost adaptations that would reduce damage from the next Harvey. We could adopt a more water-borne way of life (think Venice) as sea-level rises. We could preserve more forests and plant more plants to absorb excess CO2 and increase food production. Doesn’t a strategy of cost-effective adaptation make more sense than the flawed set of restrictions on US CO2 production?

Mathematician, Statistician, Businessman, and Academic. Student of history, poli sci , and the Bible.

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