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Letter to the editor: Buffoons who do the math

In the latest musings (here we go again) by Pineandlakes Echo Journal conservative columnist Pete Abler, "As I See It: Inspiration," Mr. Abler states he wants "to find the well-intentioned buffoon who came up with 500-year" prediction of catastrophic floods related to hurricane aftermaths, this time in Houston, and then, by extension, everywhere else.

Mr. Abler has several good options for conducting his buffoon research: (1) Googling for the technical information himself; (2) relying on interested readers to do his research for him; or (3) relying on better methodologies for validating his opinions.

For the relying-on-readers option, we look to the statistical and scientific basis defining weather phenomena such as massive flooding from Hurricane Harvey that affected Houston.

Accordingly, "500-year" (or 100-year, or whatever) rainfall and flood conditions are predicted by statistical modeling, using hard data from prior years. Many prior years. All recorded prior years. And more data means better estimates in predictability of outcomes.

As recently reported, one occurrence in any given year, and for only one specific location, does not mean, however, that the next 499 years will be flood free. (Source: "Houston is experiencing its third '500-year' flood in 3 years. How is that possible?" Washington Post, 08-29-2017, Christopher Ingraham.)

Add into this mix the data-driven trends that currently reflect global-warming upticks of average worldwide annual temperatures, the resulting increased atmospheric water-vapor capacities, as well as deglaciation of Arctic and Antarctic regions, and you have ratcheted up statistical probabilities for severe weather phenomena:

"It's unwise to link climate change to any specific storm or even string of storms ... but climate scientists do believe that global warming is creating conditions that allow these storms to become more powerful and perhaps even more frequent."

Buffoonery? No way.

Opinions are just opinions, but properly researched opinions are best.

Steve Olson,

Baxter

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