Day 13 – February 27



We are not meeting class today. As I announced in last class, my plan was to have you watch a video of a climate conference for this class. Unfortunately, at this point the video is not ready. Since many of you may have made plans based on the class not meeting, I am not scheduling a class session for 27 Feb. I will keep you posted about the video and the related readings to make up this class.

Day 12 – February 20



American Electric Power Company, Inc. v. Connecticut, 131 S.Ct. 2527, 180 L.Ed.2d 435 (2011) – Study Guide

This case sets up the preemption argument that all climate change lawsuits based on suing oil companies will have to answer. Read it carefully.

Comer v. Murphy Oil USA, Inc., 839 F. Supp. 2d 849 (S.D. Miss. 2012) aff’d, 718 F.3d 460 (5th Cir. 2013)

Scan the case to see how the court analyzes the preemption of the tort claims. Read the recusal story because it is fun. (For reference – Comer v. Murphy Oil USA, 607 F.3d 1049 (5th Cir. 2010) – recusal order)

Native Vill. of Kivalina v. ExxonMobil Corp., 696 F.3d 849 (9th Cir. 2012)

Scan the case to see how the court analyzes the preemption of the claims.


Background on Alaskan Villages


A Wrenching Choice for Alaska Towns in the Path of Climate Change

Alaskan Village, Citing Climate Change, Seeks Disaster Relief In Order To Relocate

The Village That Will Be Swept Away


Day 11 – February 18


Warmest January on Record Globally | Weather Underground


Finish Mass v. EPA.

Annotated: Endangerment and Cause or Contribute Findings for Greenhouse Gases Under Section 202(a) of the Clean Air Act, 74 FR 66496 Tuesday, December 15, 2009

This is the key regulatory document for GHGs under the CAA. It has not been rescinded by the Trump administration despite calls for it to do so by antiregulatory forces. Doing so might limit the preemptive effect of the CAA on state lawsuits, as we will see in later cases.

This is where we get into the adlaw weeds. Mass v. EPA found that the EPA had the authority to regulate GHGs. Before it can do so, it must issue an endangerment finding explaining the basis for the secretary’s decision that GHGs are pollutants that endanger public health. This is not a rule, but it is the precursor to any rules dealing with GHGs under the CAA.  Load this into Acrobat or Acrobat reader and you can use the bookmarks to find the highlighted text. Read through that to see what is going on in this endangerment finding.

Technical Support Document for the Findings (PDF)

Read the Executive Summary.

Day 10 – February 13



Massachusetts v. E.P.A., 127 S.Ct. 1438 (2007) – Study guideSlides – Mass v. EPA

Mass v. EPA is the key case that begins the regulatory saga for GHGs. We are going to read this case very closely. You have probably read some of it in other classes. Standing is very critical because with Kennedy gone, it is likely that there are five justices on the current court who would side with the dissent in this case. That could undermine all climate cases. The study guide follows the case so you follow it as you read the case.

Day 9 – February 9


The world’s oceans are speeding up — another mega-scale consequence of climate change

Ocean currents are changing. They have a profound effect on coastal climate. Off Florida, changes in the Gulf Stream also affect local sea level.

Is CO2 capture a viable strategy or a costly distraction?

The Telegraph: Germans who live near wind turbines should be paid compensation, says government minister.

The Guardian: ‘Overwhelming and terrifying’: the rise of climate anxiety.


We are going to look at the pathways to decarbonization, i.e., what we have to do to reduce GHGs to manageable levels. This will set up the discussion of the Green New Deal and the legal tools necessary to achieve meaningful decarbonization. This is a fairly long read, although it is not very technical. This is a realistic guide to what can be done, at what cost, and at what timeframe. Take the time to review it and the slied. The key takeaways are what needs to happen in different sectors of the economy to get to decarbonization.

Williams, James H., et al. “Pathways to deep decarbonization in the United States.” The US Report of the Deep Decarbonization Pathways Project of the Sustainable Development Solutions Network and the Institute for Sustainable Development and International Relations, Energy and Environmental Economics, San Francisco, CA, accessed Apr 23 (2014).


Slides – Pathways to deep decarbonization in the United States

Day 8 – February 6


Bloomberg: Wind Turbine Blades Can’t Be Recycled, So They’re Piling Up in Landfills.


Finish delta talk. Take a look at this background information.

Turner, R. Eugene. “The mineral sediment loading of the modern Mississippi River Delta: what is the restoration baseline?.” Journal of Coastal Conservation 21.6 (2017): 867-872.

Turner, R. Eugene, et al. “Net land gain or loss for two Mississippi River diversions: Caernarvon and Davis Pond.” Restoration Ecology 27.6 (2019): 1231-1240.

Pictorial Account and Landscape Evolution of the Crevasses near Fort St. Philip, Louisiana (Rotated Maps – Port St. Phillip crevasse study)

Look at the pictures and read the summary sheet: Factsheet – Pictorial Account and Landscape Evolution of the Crevasses near Fort St. Philip, Louisiana



2017 Master Plan


Day 7 – February 4


Mapping Migration in the Face of Climate Change


Finish materials from last class.

Day 6 – January 30


Summary of the Climate Leadership and Environmental Action for our Nation’s (CLEAN) Future Act (2020)  – The full text of the bill (622 pages)


We are going to spend a day looking at Louisiana and the Mississippi Delta.

Reading: John McPhee, Atchafalaya, New Yorker (1987)

McPhee is one the top living nonfiction writers. This is his New Yorker article on flood control on the lower Mississippi and New Orleans, with a focus on the Old River Control Structure. It is fascinating and very well written.

Find the Old River Control Structure on Google Maps and look at it and the river from satellite view, then follow down the Atchafalaya floodway to Morgan City to see where the water would go if the structure fails. Read this as well: If the Old River Control Structure Fails: A Catastrophe With Global Impact

More information on the Old River Control Structure.

Review this map to get a sense of the elevation of coastal Louisiana: State of Louisiana—Highlighting Low-Lying Areas Derived from USGS Digital Elevation Data By John J. Kosovich 2008

The Mississippi Delta Cycle

Day 5 – January 28


Final Rule: The Navigable Waters Protection Rule

This rule dramatically shrinks the area of wetlands protected by the Clean Water Act.

Germany Rejected Nuclear Power—and Deadly Emissions Spiked


Finish materials from last class. You are not expected to become climate science experts. My goal with the science introduction is to make you familiar with the concepts and jargon and give you a framework to understand the legal and policy issues in the cases dealing with GHG regulations and with the treaties on GHG mitigation.

Day 4 – January 23


‘Get Your Mops & Buckets Ready!’ — Trump’s Infuriating Answer To Rising Seas

We will see that this may be the right answer in many places.

Ending Snowball Earth the Hard Way(Research Article – Precise radiometric age establishes Yarrabubba, Western Australia, as Earth’s oldest recognized meteorite impact structure)

Reports of Huge Reductions in This Potent Greenhouse Gas Are Wrong – Emissions Are Soaring

A reminder that CO2 is not the only GHG. We will talk more about this when we look at the Montreal Protocol.


From last class – What is Ocean Acidification?

We are going to add some weather to our rock in space from last class.

Excellent weather blog

NASA | The Ocean: A Driving Force for Weather and Climate

Knowing the ocean’s twists and turns

Ocean Currents

Ocean Currents

Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (AMOC)

World Meteorological Organization Climate Definitions

National Climate Assessment – Extreme Weather

Then we are going to learn about the IPCC. This is the key international scientific organization on climate science.

Start here:

About the IPCC

Then review these short factsheets:

What is the IPCC? 

How does the IPCC select its authors? 

What literature does the IPCC assess? 

How does the IPCC review process work? 

How does the IPCC approve reports? 

How does the IPCC deal with alleged errors? 

Be prepared to discuss these in class. It is key to understand how the IPCC works to explain why its reports are credible and also why they tend to be conservative, i.e., to understate risks.

IPCC – Climate Change 2014 Synthesis Report Summary for Policymakers – Read to p. 8, SPM 2. Future Climate Changes, Risks and Impacts.

IPCC 2014 Syn Report – Graphics (subject to revision)



Day 3 – January 21


The White House Killing Green Energy & EV Tax Credits Isn’t Surprising

James Lovelock and the Gaia hypothesis


I will do a basic introduction to the seasons, climate science, and global warming. This will not be a discussion class, but I want you to ask questions as I go to make sure you understand the basics. You need to review the resources before class. They are either short WWW pages or videos.

What is the temperature on the Moon?

What if the earth were like the moon, without an atmosphere?

Why is there an atmosphere around our earth and not around other planets?

How did the earth’s atmosphere form?

Heat capacity of water

Why water is the magic of climate and life. Things to think about: Why does ice float, rather than sink? What would the climate be like if ice didn’t float?

What are the main greenhouse gases?

Water as a GHG

Why water really controls the temperature of the planet, but why other GHGs that set the thermostat.

What causes the seasons?

The ice age cycles

How Ice Ages Happen: The Milankovitch Cycles

Why the climate changes without human intervention

Where are we in the Milankovitch Cycles?

Would the planet be warming or cooling now, if there were no people?

Solar Variability

One more variable

What is Ocean Acidification?

This is a direct effect of CO2, separate from its effect on heat retention in the atmosphere.


ACS Climate Science Toolkit – this is a collection of excellent tutorials on climate change and global warming.



Day 2 – January 16


A staggering 1 billion animals are now estimated dead in Australia’s fires

2019 was 2nd hottest year on record for Earth say NOAA, NASA

The hottest – 2016 – was a strong el Nino year.

NEPA Revisions through Guidance

Class Information

All the assignments will be posted on this blog. Check before class for breaking news updates

Class participation counts toward the final grade.

We may do online exercises and course material.


Kahan, Dan M., Climate-Science Communication and the Measurement Problem (June 25, 2014). Advances in Pol. Psych., 36, 1-43 (2015).

Read to 3. The “normality” of climate science in Southeast Florida. p. 33. We will read this section after we have looked at sea level rise for Miami.

Slides – Climate-Science Communication and the Measurement Problem – revised.

We are going to start our discussion of climate change by looking at the cultural cognition problem – what shapes people’s beliefs about scientific issues? Do the people you disagree with just not know the facts?

Read this article through page 37. This research explores the critical distinction between what a person knows and what a person believes, or put another way, what a person knows as opposed to who the person is. This has important implications for communicating information about controversial subjects such as climate change. It is also fundamental to trial practice: you have to persuade jurors to believe your story, not just know your story.

The article is well written but can be heavy going. Pay attention to the graphs. Look carefully at the section that discusses why telling people that 97%  of scientists believe something is not a good way to get them to change their minds.

There is a section on climate change beliefs in South Florida starting on page 33. I disagree with the author here on using this as an example of a community that has accepted climate change despite their political divisions. My question: are you really accepting climate change/sea level rise if the actions that you take in your plan cannot work if sea level rises? This has direct application to Louisiana.

Examples of the Climate Debate

We are all going to die – soon

From Season 3, Episode 3 of Newsroom:

Is this so crazy? See:

It is just a liberal plot:

It might be getting warmer, but who knows why?

A thoughtful skeptic:

Evaluating science in the media

The Canadian House Hippo

Day 1 – January 14

No Class – Football hangover day