Why does Harvey make a lousy deal any better? Our companies can make and sell devices with lower carbon emissions or more efficient energy use as demand develops without the blessing of diplomats and bureaucrats. We might even be in a better position to do so since we now don’t have to fork over the billions the Paris agreement calls for.
The premise of the title and first few paragraphs is that Harvey proves climate change but later it is admitted no one event can be attributed to climate change. Once you effectively acknowledge “it’s the weather, stupid”, you don’t have much of an argument left.
Even the scientific content of the statistics cited is undercut by the dramatic apocalyptic tone used in their presentation. Why is it “there never has been …” ,when it really means “since accurate recording began 100 years ago…”?
Of course simple climate change denial by some simplistic Republicans is pretty stupid. Yet, so is the assumption of eternal climate stability if only coal mining in America were stopped. What is an absolute scientific consensus is that the climate always has been changing as long as the earth has been around.
What science cannot tell us is whether the Paris treaty is a good or bad deal or whether the strategy of restricting carbon dioxide emission is a cost-effective approach in responding to the changing climate.
Harvey does put some lessons into sharp focus. “It is not smart to build a city in a swamp” is one, “zoning laws are necessary” is another, and “caustic chemical plants need to be able to shut down safely” is also on the list. There has also been a chorus recommending major public policy reforms from charging actuarially sound rates for flood insurance to buying out instead of rebuilding flood- prone properties.
Beyond bringing Republicans and Democrats together to help the victims, Harvey should motivate them to enact better approaches to land use regulation and flood insurance. Sensible course corrections now can prevent or at least reduce the adverse impact of another Harvey. What Harvey doesn’t do is prove simplistic climate change. Neither should it prompt us to shout hosannas for the Paris treaty.