Bill Nye took to Twitter to blame man-made global warming for flooding across Northern California that claimed at least three lives over the weekend.
Nye, who rarely misses a chance to link extreme weather to human activities, suggested California’s flooding meant we’d be better off not pulling out of the United Nations Paris agreement to cut greenhouse gas emissions.
President-elect Donald Trump promised to “cancel” the Paris agreement the Obama administration signed in 2016. The Senate never voted on the agreement.
Two storms hit California over the weekend due to an “atmospheric river” phenomenon that brought torrential rain and snow to the northern reaches of the Golden State. The atmospheric river plays a bigger role on the U.S. West Coast where it brings huge amounts of rain — sometimes half the rain these states get in a year.
The events are nothing new. California was hit by a string of storms in 1986 that caused massive flooding. The floods killed 13 people, displaced another 50,000 and did $400 million in property damage.
Similar events happened in the 1990s and 2000s. The current flooding has killed at least three people and shut down parts of major highways.
Floods can be devastating, and scientists predict they could become more frequent and intense due to man-made global warming. The data doesn’t seem to suggest flooding is on the rise.
About 60 percent of the locations the EPA measures show a decrease in “magnitude and intensity since 1965,” according to University of Colorado professor Roger Pielke Jr.
Pielke also found that flood damage has been declining as a proportion of the U.S. economy since 1940 — that way you control for population growth and development.
On a global scale, there’s little to no evidence flooding events have been on the rise. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change found in 2013 that “there continues to be a lack of evidence and thus low confidence regarding the sign of trend in the magnitude and/or frequency of floods on a global scale”