Environmental Science

The Epstein Affair

A prominent law prof got COVID-19 numbers disastrously wrong.  Then things got worse.

The New Yorker recently published a devastating interview with law professor Richard Epstein. He had attracted their notice by publishing two columns on the Hoover Institution website, the first projecting a total of 500 U.S. deaths from the coronavirus (later raised to 5000), and the second defending his work.  I don’t see any need to …

CONTINUE READING

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 …

CONTINUE READING

The Flight From Evidence-Based Regulation

This Administration specializes in arguments for ignoring the evidence.

The Trump Administration’s major deregulatory efforts share a common theme. They assiduously avoid having to rely on scientific or economic evidence. Confronting that evidence is time-consuming and difficult, particularly when it often comes out the other way. Instead, the Administration has come up with clever strategies to shut out the evidence. The effort to repeal …

CONTINUE READING

How Hot Will Things Get?

Identifying a realistic worst case scenario is complicated.

How hot will the world be in 2100? The answer partly depends on how much carbon we dump in the atmosphere between now and then. It also depends on how sensitive the climate system is to those emissions. Scientists have used 4.5 °C as the high end of the likely possibilities. That estimate derives from …

CONTINUE READING

Tracing Trump’s Trillion Trees

1t website

The president’s embrace of massive tree planting has a remarkable — and questionable — backstory

During last week’s State of the Union address, US President Donald Trump said: To protect the environment, days ago I announced that the United States will join the One Trillion Trees Initiative, an ambitious effort to bring together government and private sector to plant new trees in America and all around the world. Astute regular …

CONTINUE READING

Misunderstanding the Law of Causation

Trump’s NEPA proposal flunks Torts as well as Environmental Science 101.

Last week’s NEPA proposal bars agencies from considering many of the harms their actions will produce, such as climate change. These restrictions profoundly misunderstand the nature of environmental problems and are based on the flimsiest of legal foundations. Specifically, the proposal tells agencies they do not need to consider environmental “effects if they are remote …

CONTINUE READING

Charting the Progress of the Latest Chapter in American Climate Change Litigation

State and Local Governments’ Common Law-Based Lawsuits Against the Energy Industry Are Steadily Gaining Traction

The latest chapter in American climate change litigation has been launched by local governments–and one state–across the U.S. against domestic and international fossil fuel companies.  These lawsuits have been brought under one of the oldest and most venerable legal doctrines–state common law.  They seek compensation from the energy industry for the myriad, adverse effects of …

CONTINUE READING

COP25 in Context, or “How Bad is It?”

Scientists have concluded we should keep global heating below 1.5 degrees to be sure we avoid catastrophic effects

Reflections on Stopping Speeding Locomotives and Falling Off Cliffs

In my last post, I sketched a few of the many intense tensions and contradictions swirling around this year’s Conference of the Parties (COP25) to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (FCCC). In this post, I’ll try to make some sense of the biggest tension of all, one that folks working on climate are …

CONTINUE READING

Climate Change, Ozone Depletion, and the New York Times

The Montreal Protocol offers lessons for climate change, but not a role model

In an extended piece yesterday, The New York Times editorial board wrote that “The World Solved the Ozone Problem. It Can Solve Climate Change. The same tools that fixed the ozone hole — science, innovation and international action — can address.” Although the editorial was mostly correct, it missed what I believe to be the …

CONTINUE READING

EPA’s Draft Update to Its “Science Transparency Rule” Shows It Can’t Justify the Rule

EPA Cites an Inapplicable “Housekeeping Statute” to Justify Its Rule to Limit the Use of Science In Important Regulatory Decisions

Over a year ago, EPA issued a proposed rule , ostensibly to promote transparency in the use of science to inform regulation. The proposal, which mirrors failed legislation introduced multiple times in the House, has the potential to dramatically restrict EPA’s ability to rely on key scientific studies that underpin public health regulations. The rule, …

CONTINUE READING

TRENDING