Document Type

Working Paper

Publication Date

2013

Center/Program

Sabin Center for Climate Change Law

Abstract

Viewers of certain television networks, readers of certain newspapers, and anyone visiting Capitol Hill would come away with the impression that there are serious questions about whether climate change is occurring and, if it is, whether it is mostly caused by human activity. One place where there are few such questions is the courts. In fact it appears that (with one lone exception in a dissent) not a single U.S. judge has expressed any skepticism, in a written opinion or dissent, about the science underlying the concern over climate change. To the contrary, the courts have uniformly upheld this science, and in one notable recent opinion a judge has gone so far as to suggest that those who accused a leading climate scientist of fraud may have acted with actual malice by making claims that are "provably false," potentially subjecting them to damages in libel. This column begins by discussing the several litigations involving one embattled climate scientist, and then describes how other courts have dealt with issues of climate science.

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