Adaptation and the Courtroom: Judging Climate Science

Michigan Journal of Environmental & Administrative Law, 2013, Forthcoming

Arizona Legal Studies Discussion Paper No. 12-38

28 Pages Posted: 6 Dec 2012 Last revised: 16 Jan 2014

Kirsten H. Engel

University of Arizona - James E. Rogers College of Law

Jonathan T. Overpeck

University of Arizona - Department of Geosciences

Date Written: January 11, 2014

Abstract

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.

Keywords: climate change, scientific evidence, admissibility, adaptation, Daubert

JEL Classification: K32, K4, K41

Suggested Citation

Engel, Kirsten H. and Overpeck, Jonathan T., Adaptation and the Courtroom: Judging Climate Science (January 11, 2014). Michigan Journal of Environmental & Administrative Law, 2013, Forthcoming; Arizona Legal Studies Discussion Paper No. 12-38. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2185616

Kirsten H. Engel (Contact Author)

University of Arizona - James E. Rogers College of Law ( email )

P.O. Box 210176
Tucson, AZ 85721-0176
United States
520-621-5444 (Phone)

Jonathan T. Overpeck

University of Arizona - Department of Geosciences ( email )

Tucson, AZ 85721
United States

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