On Tuesday, Tennessee adopted a law “to prevent school administrators from reining in teachers who expound on alternative hypotheses” to the scientific theories of evolution and climate change.
The National Center for Science Education has said of the primary alternative to evolution — creationism — that “students who accept this material as scientifically valid are unlikely to succeed in science courses at the college level.”
I suppose this is some form of natural selection, then, as Tennessee encourages the disinforming of its kids in two of the most important areas they will need to thrive in the 21st century — thrive economically in a world of global competitors who don’t teach anti-science disinformation to their kids and, of course, thrive literally in a world where a livable climate is being destroyed by man-made global warming and a man-made disinformation campaign to delay action.
Ironically, the bill was enacted two years after one of the epic extreme weather events in U.S. recorded history devastated one of America’s great cities (see “The Tennessee deluge of 2010: Nashville’s ‘Katrina’ and the dawn of the superflood”).
The status quo media barely told the story of Nashville’s Katrina (let alone its link to human-caused climate change), so you may not remember this superstorm unless you are a regular Climate Progress reader. But this one was way off the charts.
NOAA’s National Weather Service reported the jaw-dropping factoids in its report, “May 1 & 2 2010 Epic Flood Event for Western and Middle Tennessee”:
- Fifteen (15) observation sites had rainfall measurements exceeding the maximum observed rainfall associated with Hurricane Katrina landfall.
- The two day rainfall of 13.57 inches at Nashville International Airport shattered the monthly rainfall record for May which was 11.04 inches.
- The heaviest rainfall occurred in a swath across Davidson, Williamson, Dickson, Hickman, Benton, Perry, and Humphreys Counties. An average of 14 to 15 inches of rain fell equivalent to 420 billion gallons of water in just two days.
The NWS put together this “stunning map of Tennessee’s 1000-year deluge”:
What is a 100 year flood? A 100 year flood is an event that statistically has a 1% chance of occurring in any given year. A 500 year flood has a .2% chance of occurring and a 1000 year flood has a .1% chance of occurring. The map below relates to amount of rainfall that fell to the chances of that amount of rain actually occurring.
I had never seen a map like that before, but then that may be because there simply aren’t many events to rival this one. Look at the red streak, which is the area hit by a greater than 1000-year deluge. And look at how much of western Tennessee was slammed with a greater than 500 year downpour. This is the biblical “high water” of Hell and High Water — but it is science that tells us humans are contributing to the superstorms by pumping billions of tons of heat trapping greenhouse gases into the atmosphere every year
It was an off-the-charts extreme weather event that human-caused global warming set the table for and almost certainly made more intense, as Dr. Kevin Trenberth, former head of the Climate Analysis Section at the National Center for Atmospheric Research, explained to me the very next month:
I find it systematically tends to get underplayed and it often gets underplayed by my fellow scientists. Because one of the opening statements, which I’m sure you’ve probably heard is “Well you can’t attribute a single event to climate change.” But there is a systematic influence on all of these weather events now-a-days because of the fact that there is this extra water vapor lurking around in the atmosphere than there used to be say 30 years ago. It’s about a 4% extra amount, it invigorates the storms, it provides plenty of moisture for these storms and it’s unfortunate that the public is not associating these with the fact that this is one manifestation of climate change. And the prospects are that these kinds of things will only get bigger and worse in the future.
Not that kids in Tennessee will ever hear any of this. But then why should they. It’s not like there’s anything they might be taught that would suggest this will happen before another 1,000 years, is there?