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Abstract In a recent very influential court case, Juliana v. United States , climate scientist Kevin Trenberth used the “storyline” approach to extreme event attribution to argue that greenhouse warming had affected and will affect extreme events in their regions to such an extent that the plaintiffs already had been or will be harmed. The storyline approach to attribution is deterministic rather than probabilistic, taking certain factors as contingent and assessing the role of climate change conditional on those factors. The US Government’s opposing expert witness argued that Trenberth had failed to make his case because “all his conclusions of the injuries to Plaintiffs suffer from the same failure to connect his conditional approach to Plaintiffs’ local circumstances.” The issue is whether it is possible to make statements about individual events based on general knowledge. A similar question is sometimes debated within the climate science community. We argue here that proceeding from the general to the specific is a process of deduction and is an entirely legitimate form of scientific reasoning. We further argue that it is well aligned with the concept of legal evidence, much more so than the more usual inductive form of scientific reasoning, which proceeds frommore »
Abstract Standards of proof for attributing real world events/damage to global warming should be the same as in clinical or environmental lawsuits, argue Lloyd et al. The central question that we raise is effective communication. How can climate scientists best and effectively communicate their findings to crucial non-expert audiences, including public policy makers and civil society? To address this question, we look at the mismatch between what courts require and what climate scientists are setting as a bar of proof. Our first point is that scientists typically demand too much of themselves in terms of evidence, in comparison with the level of evidence required in a legal, regulatory, or public policy context. Our second point is to recommend that the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change recommend more prominently the use of the category “more likely than not” as a level of proof in their reports, as this corresponds to the standard of proof most frequently required in civil court rooms. This has also implications for public policy and the public communication of climate evidence.
Abstract In this paper we consider some questions surrounding whether or not regional climate models “add value,” a controversial issue in climate science today. We highlight some objections frequently made about regional climate models both within and outside the community of modelers, including several claims that regional climate models do not “add value.” We show that there are a number of issues involved in the latter claims, the primary ones centering on the fact that different research questions are being pursued by the modelers making the complaints against regional climate models. Further issues focus on historical deficiencies of particular—but not generalizable—failures of individual regional models. We provide tools to sort out these different research questions and particular failures, and to improve communication and understanding surrounding added value in climate modeling and philosophy of climate science.