Placeholder Image

Subtitles section Play video

  • 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 anact 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 seeacts of godmentioned 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 theact of goddefense, 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 ofreasonable

  • precautionsmight be required to stave off 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 human fingerprints 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 human activity.

  • 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 eventsand recognizing

  • our own contributions to them - the success of the act of god defense may soon be relegated

  • fully to the margarines.

  • Hey there!

  • 2017 has been the best year for MinuteEarth so far.

  • We made more videos than ever for more viewers than ever.

  • And on July 20th, you guys combined to watch the most MinuteEarth content ever seen in

  • one dayyou 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 joining us!

  • And to our Patreon patrons and YouTube Sponsors, 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?

  • What would you like to see more of - or less of - next year?

  • Let us know in the comments or on Twitter or Facebook - and thanks for watching!

Hi, this is Kate from MinuteEarth.

Subtitles and vocabulary

Operation of videos Adjust the video here to display the subtitles

B1 US minuteearth flood butter damage god defense

Are "Acts of God" Disappearing?

  • 98 4
    Zoe posted on 2018/03/26
Video vocabulary