Leaving Paris (from Rex Tillerson’s Diary)

Here’s how the deal was undone.

Three years ago today, Trump announced that he would withdraw from the Paris Agreement. Rex Tillerson, who was Trump’s Secretary of State about 10,000 tweets ago, was there, behind the scenes, when Trump was making the decision.  Here’s what he might have written in his diary:. April 1.  Talked with DT today.  He said he’d …

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Animal, vegetable or mineral?

A lesson in judicial humility and a thought experiment about property rights

This topic may be a bit far afield for this blog, but dinosaurs are always worth considering . . . The Montana Supreme Court has resolved an intriguing dispute about ownership of fossilized dinosaur remains that turned on the question of whether those remains were or were not “minerals.” In the process, the Montana court …

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Nonstate Actors Could Help Govern Solar Geoengineering

Governments are not acting; maybe others could -- and should

Although reductions in greenhouse gas emissions continue to be inadequate to prevent dangerous climate change, solar geoengineering appears able to substantially reduce climate risks. More research, including outdoor experiments, is needed to reduce critical uncertainties. This could pose some environmental risks and — arguably more importantly — will raise diverse social concerns, such as research …

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Coronavirus Tests and Their Limits

Eyeballing trends in the epidemic? Proceed with caution!

Many of us anxiously scan coronavirus statistics, looking at trends and cross-country comparisons. Warning: We need to be cautious in interpreting those numbers.  There’s lots of noise in the data, meaning that it’s not always an accurate measure of what we want to know about the disease. Even death counts are not always reliable — …

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Lemonade

legal planet - train

Can the COVID Crisis Benefit Climate Response?

Former Obama chief of staff and Chicago Mayor Rahm Emmanuel has been cited quite a bit for this quote: You never let a serious crisis go to waste. And what I mean by that it’s an opportunity to do things you think you could not do before. COVID-19 certainly meets the criteria of a serious …

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Suing Big Oil

Which court has jurisdiction? State court or federal?

Yesterday, the Ninth Circuit ruled in favor of the plaintiffs in two climate change cases brought against the oil industry. The court ruled on a narrow but important procedural issue: whether the cases should be sent back to state court. Cities and counties should now be able to continue with the cases, in which they …

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Ninth Circuit Hands California Local Governments Big Climate Change Win

Local Governments' Climate Change Lawsuits Against Big Energy Belong in State Courts, Court of Appeals Rules

Today the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit handed numerous California local governments a major win over major oil, gas and coal companies in several of the nation’s most consequential set of climate change lawsuits.  The Ninth Circuit did so in two separate opinions; County of San Mateo v. Chevron Corporation and City of …

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Day In/Day Out, Our Continuing Troubles

Some things are episodic. Others just go on and on. And on.

You might think a massive disease outbreak or skyrocketing unemployment would make our other troubles come to a halt or at least slow down. But no, not so much. Here are a dozen examples of things that refuse to stop, regardless of the day of the week, the presence of an epidemic, or a collapsing …

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What’s in a Name?

“Climate change”? “Disruption”? “Crisis”? “Emergency”? Why is this so hard?

We seem to have a lot of trouble in coming up with the right name for what’s happening to the world’s climate.  We started with “Global Warming.” But that seemed too narrow, because the changes don’t just relate to temperature, and too innocuous, because warming seems like a gentle process. So scientists shifted to “Climate …

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Networks of Misinformation

How Anti-Public Health Messages and Activities Spread

Like a virus, misinformation can spread within a population. It has its super-spreaders, just like the coronavirus. It can mutate in ways that make it more contagious. And it can be weaponized. Research into networks of coronavirus-related communication has revealed how both true and false information spread through social media .  Misinformation can spread like …

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