New Study Says Climate Change Made Hurricane Harvey a Lot Worse

Spoiler alert: global warming made the destruction of Hurricane Harvey both worse and more likely. In a new paper by Mark Risser and Michael Wehner of Lawrence Berkeley Labs, they first show us the rainfall trend for Houston over the past 70 years:

The upward trend is clear. I’ve added the dashed line showing Hurricane Harvey, which dropped 481 mm of rain over the greater Houston area. Next up, here’s the trend in the likely return period for the previous biggest storm (300 mm):

In 1950, a storm dropping 300 mm of rain on Houston was likely to occur once every 300 years. By 2016, such storms were expected every 30 years. These trends are partly due to climate change, which leads the authors to this conclusion:

We find that human-induced climate change likely increased the chances of the observed precipitation accumulations during Hurricane Harvey in the most affected areas of Houston by a factor of at least 3.5. Further, precipitation accumulations in these areas were likely increased by at least 18.8% (best estimate of 37.7%).
Climate change more than tripled the odds of a huge Harvey-like story hitting Houston, and increased the rainfall by about 38 percent. So can you say that climate change “caused” Harvey? Not quite. But you can say that it probably made it a lot more likely and a lot more damaging.

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SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

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