The Great-Great-Grandmother of Climate Science
Herein of the now-forgotten woman who discovered the warming effect of CO2.
The first climate science ever published was in 1856 by Eunice Newton Foote, who discovered that CO2 and water vapor trapped the sun’s heat. Her paper was read at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. That paper, along with another paper of hers, were the only physics papers by …
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Stanford and Beyond
Organizing Universities Around Sustainability
In May, Stanford grabbed headlines by announcing a billion dollar gift to launch a new School of Sustainability. There hasn’t been much written about the details of Stanford’s effort, or about what other schools are doing along similar lines. There’s little in the way of systematic information, but there does seem to be a lot …
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The Revolution, the Enlightenment and the Climate Crisis
The Founding Era’s belief in facts and science has too often been replaced with political identity as a test of truth.
The Declaration of Independence is a document deeply rooted in the Enlightenment. The Declaration begins with a note of cosmopolitanism, referring to “a decent respect to the opinions of mankind.” There is then the famous passage declaring “these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator …
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Expertise versus Politics Under Biden
Experts will no longer be pariahs under Biden. But will their voices be heard?
One of the abiding issues in governance is the balance between democratic leadership and experts. We don’t want government solely by technocrats. Nor do we want government steered solely by ideology and politics, as under Trump. Biden will be a vast improvement, but there’s still some question about whether he’ll get the balance right. I …
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40 Legal Scholars Urge EPA to Withdraw Proposed Ozone NAAQS
EPA’s newest ozone rulemaking has failed to meet even the deferential standard of arbitrary and capricious review.
This blog is co-authored with Sean Hecht. On October 1, 2020, on behalf of 40 environmental and administrative law scholars affiliated with 33 universities in 18 states, Sean Hecht and I filed a comment letter urging EPA to withdraw its decision to keep the National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) for ozone at the current …
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Environmentalists v. Cost-Benefit Analysis: What Does the Future Hold?
For now, at least, environmentalists and economists are aligned in criticizing Trump’s rollbacks. Will this alliance last?
If it’s true that “the enemy of my enemy is my friend,” environmentalists might want to take another look at cost-benefit analysis. The Trump Administration is certainly doing its best to gut economic analysis of its rollbacks. Both economists and environmentalists are resisting. Is this an alliance of convenience or will it be the start …
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Using and Abusing Models: Lessons from COVID-19
We’ve seen some great examples of how NOT to deal with models.
Models have figured heavily in government responses to the coronavirus. This has given us the opportunity for a real-time lesson in the uses of models. In the process, we’ve learned some important lessons in how to best make use of models — and equally importantly, in how not to use them. That’s directly relevant to …
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100 Law Professors Urge EPA to Withdraw Revamped “Transparency in Science” Rule
EPA’s new proposal would go beyond even the far-reaching original to limit agency use of the best science
Today, on behalf of 100 environmental and administrative law professors affiliated with 70 universities in 33 states and the District of Columbia, Sean Hecht and I filed a comment letter urging EPA to withdraw its updated proposal to limit the use of science in agency decisionmaking processes, misleadingly named the “Strengthening Transparency in Science” rule. …
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We Need an Environmental Dr. Fauci
Much of environmental law is about protecting public health. But the Trump Administration won’t listen.
During the coronavirus crisis, Dr. Anthony Fauci has become the voice of reason. Much of the public turns to him for critical information about public health, while even Trump finds it necessary to listen. In the Trump era, no one plays that role in the environmental area. The result is a mindless campaign of deregulation …
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Polticial Bias Versus Scientific Integrity: An Empirical Test
What the effort to pack the EPA’s Scientific Advisory Board can teach us.
Many people distrust environmental science, though for different reasons. Progressives may discount science that they see as supporting business interests. Meanwhile, conservatives may think scientists come to “politically correct” conclusions in order to get grants. It’s reasonable to think that these things may sometimes happen. But how strong are these effects? Unwittingly, the Trump Administration …
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