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“Water poured into his house. Floods deluged his neighborhood. At least one of his neighbors drowned.” According to New York Times reporters Zia ur-Rehman, Christina Goldbaum, and Salman Masood, this is the norm for Murtaza Hussain in Kausur Niazi Colony, a slum in Karachi. As the reporters put it, “Year after year” Hussain and his neighbors have “watched as monsoon rains flooded into their homes, damaged furniture, televisions, and other precious valuables.”

On its face, what Hussain and his neighbors endure every year is another one of the many sad stories told daily in the New York Times. This is said as a compliment to the newspaper. It’s hard to imagine another one with such global reach. Except that ur-Rehman, Goldbaum, and Masood aren’t just reporting on the miseries of the poor. There’s as some might expect an environmental angle.

They write that a monsoon season that has been “particularly brutal” in 2022 is “an urgent reminder that in an era of global warming, extreme weather events are increasingly the norm, not the exception, across the region, and that Pakistan’s major cities remain woefully ill-equipped to handle them.” About this, keep in mind that Karachi is a coastal city, and that the proponents of the theory that is global warming expect cities next to large bodies of water to suffer warming the most. Except that there’s an obvious problem with their analysis.

For one, some readers will point out that flooding in Kausur Niazi Colony is an annual thing, or “Year after year” as explained by the Times reporters. If the flooding is yearly, isn’t it likely that something other than warming is the cause?

The above question is a reasonable one mainly because there are lots of coastal cities around the world, but most inhabitants of those cities don’t suffer as Hussain et al do every year in Pakistan. That Karachi’s flood experience isn’t the global coastal norm arguably answers the response that some might have about 2022 being a “particularly brutal” monsoon season in Karachi. The Times reporters would have us believe there’s a direct correlation between a warming planet and intense flooding. That’s hard to countenance.

Basically, the reporters are constructing a difficult correlation. As Americans we know this well. The U.S. has an abundance of coastal cities, it’s no doubt true that occasionally a hurricane or some extreme weather event will hit one area pretty hard (Kentucky comes to mind), but this is hardly a “Year after year” problem for specific cities. Better yet, it’s so far not been a notable problem in 2022 despite the latter existing as a “particularly brutal” year in Pakistan. In other words, anecdote isn’t statistic, trend, or much else. It’s been an awful monsoon season in Pakistan, but not in every global port city.

In particular, no U.S. town or city can claim annual miseries related to flooding as Karachi can. They just can’t. All of which raises a question of why? The answer seems kind of obvious. If a U.S. city were annually flooded due to weather, it would either be a deserted city; that, or walls, moats, and other barriers to rising water levels would have been constructed to mitigate the impact of extreme weather. Which is the point.

Stating what’s kind of obvious, capitalism produces the resources necessary to protect us from weather extremes. Precisely because there’s property that could or can be damaged by weather and its vagaries, the profit-motivated either have an incentive to erect barriers; that, or they choose not to build where their property is threatened in the first place. Nothing original or insightful here, as much as it’s a reminder that the cruelty of weather is more a consequence of a lack of economic growth (and subsequent lack of resources) than anything else.

Which calls into question all the alarmism about global warming. If we ignore that the only constant about scientists is that they’re always arguing with each other, the belief that warming signals future doom is difficult to take too seriously. That is so given the examples used by reporters, including the ones mentioned here. They contend that Karachi’s troubles are a consequence of warming, but by their own admission monsoon floods are annual. Assuming the theory is real, it’s no stretch to say its effects are felt not because of capitalism, but due to a lack of same.

It all begs for a more reasoned approach about the future. About it, it’s notable that at least in the U.S., investment continues to flow in copious amounts to coastal locales. It’s a powerful market signal, and an inconvenient one for those who buy into the warming theory. If there’s any validity to it, it’s apparent investors aren’t worried. Probably with good reason. As long as there’s capitalism, there will be resources necessary to ably handle whatever Mother Nature throws at us.

John Tamny is editor of RealClearMarkets, Vice President at FreedomWorks, a senior fellow at the Market Institute, and a senior economic adviser to Applied Finance Advisors (www.appliedfinance.com). His most recent book is When Politicians Panicked: The New Coronavirus, Expert Opinion, and a Tragic Lapse of Reason. 

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