New York Magazine

The “500-Year” Flood

Climate change isn’t slow. It’s very fast—centuries’ worth of disasters hitting each decade.

David Wallace-Wells

WAS HURRICANE HARVEY the result of climate change? The answer is complicated because weather is complicated, and probably the best science can say, really, is “In part.” But the question is ultimately semantic. As journalist Robinson Meyer and scientist Michael Mann explained very clearly and very helpfully in the aftermath of Harvey, global warming means more moisture in the air, which intensifies rainfall and flooding, and significant sea-level rise, which leads to bigger and more invasive storm surges. But the more important matter is not how much blame for Harvey we should parcel out to climate change; it is how often, in this new age of epic weather, storms like it will hit. There are complicated variables there, too, of course. But the big-picture answer is

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