Adaptation and the Courtroom: Judging Climate Science
Kirsten H. Engel
University of Arizona - James E. Rogers College of Law
Jonathan T. Overpeck
University of Arizona - Department of Geosciences
January 11, 2014
Michigan Journal of Environmental & Administrative Law, 2013, Forthcoming
Arizona Legal Studies Discussion Paper No. 12-38
Climate science is increasingly showing up in courtroom disputes over the duty to adapt to climate change. While judges play a critical role in evaluating scientific evidence, they are not apt to be familiar with the basic methods of climate science nor with the role played by peer review, publication and training of climate scientists. This Article is an attempt to educate the bench and the bar on the basics of the discipline of climate science, which we contend is a distinct scientific discipline. We propose a series of principles to guide a judge’s evaluation of the reliability and weight to be accorded a given climate scientists’ claim or opinion. The principles are designed to aid a judge in evaluating whether the expert’s testimony complies with the Daubert test for the admissibility of scientific evidence but are broadly applicable to a judge’s evaluation of agency science-based decisions.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 28
Keywords: climate change, scientific evidence, admissibility, adaptation, Daubert
JEL Classification: K32, K4, K41
Date posted: December 6, 2012 ; Last revised: January 16, 2014
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