Hi, this is Kate from MinuteEarth.
In 1903, an unprecedented flood struck Kansas,
wreaking havoc on homes, farmland, infrastructure,
and an entire trainload of butter.
The creamery sued the rail company for its lost cargo,
but the railroad argued that they shouldn ’ t be responsible,
since the flood had been completely out of their control.
The court agreed,
ruling that the flood had been an “ act of god. ”
Courts around the world have actually been using the term
since the 1500 ’ s to describe unprecedented events that seem to come out of nowhere.
Today, you ’ ll see “ acts of god ” mentioned in contracts,
insurance policies, and a few US environmental laws.
And, like in the butter case,
you might hear a lawyer milking the term as a defense in court
To use the “ act of god ” defense,
you don ’ t have to prove that a god actually caused the event,
you just have to prove two things: one,
that taking reasonable precautions couldn ’ t
have prevented the damage,
and two, that the damage was caused by a natural force with
no human influence.
But it ’ s getting harder and harder to meet these criteria,
starting with the reasonable precautions.
Thanks to improving technology and scientific knowledge,
we ’ re increasingly able to predict
the size, scope, and path of destructive events,
which raises the bar for what kind of “ reasonable
precautions” might be required to staveoff damage.
For instance, back in 1903,
the railway had put the butter car on what seemed like high
enough ground to keep it safe,
but they had little way of knowing how severe the flood would be Today,
with a lot more flood knowledge,
they ’ d have to better prepare the butter for the
act of god defense to stick.
And the second criteria is also harder to meet
because we ’ re finding that an increasing
number of natural disasters do have humanfingerprints on them.
For instance, human activities have led to
the warming and rising of the ocean, which
almost certainly intensified Hurricane Sandy
in 2012 and likely exacerbated Europe’s 2015 heat wave
In fact, scientists estimate
that some of Sandy ’ s catastrophic effects – like the
flooding of vital transit tunnels,
which added more than ten billion dollars of damage – might
not have happened without the effects of humanactivity.
自从像洪水 干旱 火灾这样的自然灾害
Since natural events like floods, droughts,
and wildfires are happening more often and
doing more damage than they used to,
we may actually be seeing more Act of God cases pop up in court in the future.
But because we ’ re becoming butter… I mean…
better at predicting those events –
and recognizing our own contributions to them –
the success of the act of god defense may soon be relegated
fully to the margarines.
2017 has been the best year for MinuteEarthso far.
We made more videos than ever for more viewersthan ever.
And on July 20th,
you guys combined to watch the most MinuteEarth content ever seen in one day
– you watched
about 4 and a half years ’ worth of our videos!
Whether you’re a brand-new viewer or someone
who’s been tuning in since the very beginning,
we just want to say thank you for joiningus!
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thanks for making *us* possible!
We ’ d love to hear from all our viewers -what were some of your favorite MinuteEarth moments of the year?
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or less of – next year?
Let us know in the comments or on Twitter or Facebook –
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