No, Forbes, Texas Blackouts Were Not Caused By Climate Change
NOT A LOT OF PEOPLE KNOW THAT / by Paul Homewood / 3d
By Paul Homewood
Needless to say, it did not take long for the worms to come out of the woodwork and blame the Texas cold weather on global warming:
A record-setting polar vortex, which brought intense cold to a majority of the American heartland, has led to massive blackouts in Texas as significant amounts of generating capacity have been knocked offline.
As climate change worsens extreme weather events, we should expect more of these failures. Aging infrastructure built around 20th century weather patterns will be continually tested by the more extreme weather now becoming commonplace. Reliability plans based off similar assumption sets will need to be reworked entirely. Industry analysts peg the cost of upgrading and modernizing the US grid in the trillions of dollars alone, which doesn’t even account for the trillions more needed to replace aging fossil-fired assets and build gigawatts of energy storage to support further renewables penetration. No matter your policy positions or thoughts, climate change will find its way in to your utility bills. These grid failures are wake-up calls and provide further proof that the impacts of climate change are not geographically constrained, nor do they take aim at one political party. One way or another, the cost of climate change on each of us will make itself known: in this both California and Texas can now agree.
Now the month has ended, we have the official data to show that it was not “record cold”, and that similar temperatures have been recorded in Texas in the past.
Take Austin, for example, which certainly was at the heart of the bitter cold. The official CLIMOD data shows that the lowest daytime temperature was 25F. But lower temperatures have been recorded in the winters of 1961/2, 1950/51, 1948/49, 1990/91, 1989/90, 1984/5, 1983/84 and 1988/89 (in order of temperature:
In other words last month was only the 9th coldest spell since records began in 1938. Night time temperatures were not a record either – the coldest night was in 1948/49, and 1950/51 & 1989/90 were as cold or colder:
We can check out Dallas too:
Again we find that there have been colder spells in the past.
It is certainly true that the cold weather last month was an unusual event in Texas, but there is no evidence whatsoever that it was due to climate change, or indeed that these events are becoming more common.