Among the more zealous atheists in the science community, religious people are one big jumble of intellectual immaturity, if not outright stupidity, bent on replacing science classes with the New Testament.(1)

Hey, that's nicer than what they say about Republicans.

But, whether you are religious or not, The Bible is likely part of your cultural lexicon.   So whereas if kookier science pundits want to send a negative message, they compare all who disagree with them to Holocaust deniers (calling opponents Nazis is too cliché) because they can't bring themselves to use Biblical comparisons, moderate folks use liturgical imagery in more positive ways.

Want to send a message that climate change does not mean just warming, and instability is a very bad thing?   Invoke Noah's Flood.  That's exactly what 100 researchers from the United States Geological Survey’s multi-hazards initiative did at the ARkStorm Summit in Sacramento on Friday (ARkStorm: California’s other "Big One"), invoking imagery of a 'SuperStorm' that could cause $300 billion in damages, last 40 days and dump up to 10 feet of rain.  You know, like a certain flood story with a certain Ark and a bunch of animals that did not include dinosaurs.  Or if they did, they ate coconuts.

Noahs Ark

Turns out that leftwing global warming proponents have found new allies among the religious right.   Who says science isn't about bringing people together?

But global warming skeptics have an out also.   Such a storm has happened recently in California, when a 300-mile stretch of the Central Valley went underwater for 45 days in the winter of 1861-62.   But that was before the Industrial Revolution and non-Prius cars could have caused global warming, detractors can note, it was just plain bad luck.   Nature is not just a magazine, she can also be a bitch.

"The ARkStorm scenario is a complete picture of what that storm would do to the social and economic systems of California," said Lucy Jones, chief scientist of the USGS Multi-Hazards Demonstration Project and architect of ARkStorm. "We think this event happens once every 100 or 200 years or so, which puts it in the same category as our big San Andreas earthquakes. The ARkStorm is essentially two historic storms (January 1969 and February 1986) put back to back in a scientifically plausible way. The model is not an extremely extreme event."

So why does climate change get invoked?   It may be fashion.    The researchers believe this kind of storm, effecting up to 25% of California houses, needs to be planned for, and that takes budget.    Californians love to do stuff about global warming but rain is not as exciting so mixing them is good framing.  It's a lot sexier for disaster planning than saying 'We expect the mudslides to put out the brushfires'.

But the religious imagery is clever also.   ARkStorm derives its name from 'atmospheric river', those seasonal systems brought to us from around Hawaii way.  I will be there in two weeks, so I will let you know if I have to take refuge in a boat.   Aloha!


(1) The other side is not immune to kookiness, of course, but the article is about a Big Flood.   Plenty of religious people have created a world where atheists will give out free gay porn in schools and institute forced sodomy zones if they are not contained.