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Exam Information

The final exam is posted on Moodle.

April 16


The Right’s New Rallying Cry in Finland: ‘Climate Hysteria’ 

How Big Business Is Hedging Against the Apocalypse

Pace of Bering Sea changes startle scientists

“The projections were saying we would’ve hit situations similar to what we saw last year, but not for another 40 or 50 years,” Danielson said….”


This is an excellent review of the general homeowner insurance problem – many homeowners do not have adequate non-flood insurance coverage to rebuild after a total loss. This often costs more than the market value of the house.

The related WWW site:


General instructions to the teams – focus on what an environmental lawyer should learn from your case what will help in bringing new cases.

Sierra Club v. FERC, 867 F.3d 1357 (9th Cir. 2017).

This is a challenge to a pipeline, partially based on NEPA.

Team 1 – Tell us about the standing analysis in this case. Why did the judge grant standing and what was the defendant’s opposition to standing?

Team 2 – What is NEPA climate issue in this case and what did the judge find that the defendants had to add to the EIS?

WildEarth Guardians v. Zinke, No. CV 16-1724 (RC), 2019 WL 1273181 (D.D.C. Mar. 19, 2019)

This a challenge to leasing public lands for oil and gas development, partially based on NEPA.

Team 3 – Tell us about the standing analysis in this case. Why did the judge grant standing and what was the defendant’s opposition to standing?

Team 4 – What is NEPA climate issue in this case and what did the judge find that the defendants had to add to the EIS?



April 11


Great 2 minute climate change clip from the Weather Channel

Notice of Intent To Prepare a Draft Environmental Impact Statement for the Lake Pontchartrain and Vicinity General Re-Evaluation Report, Louisiana – 84 FR 12598 (2019)


Finish our review of the NFIP FAQ. We left off at Filing a Claim, p. 23

Answers to Questions about the National Flood Insurance Program – edited for discussion

Suing the National Flood Insurance Program

For both teams – what does a lawyer need to know to help a client who wants to file a claim and contest an NFIP loss determination.

Team 3

Gibson v. American Bankers Insurance Co., 289 F.3d 943 (6th Cir. 2002)

Team 4

DeCosta v. Allstate Ins. Co., 730 F.3d 76, 77 (1st Cir. 2013)

Begin discussion of NEPA, time permitting

Slides – Introduction to the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA)

April 9


FEMA announcement of intent to restructure the NFIP rate structure


Louisiana Insurance Law

Before we get into the details of the National Flood Insurance Program, we are going to look at basic Louisiana insurance law for homeowners insurance coverage of flooding events.

Team 1

Sher v. Lafayette Ins. Co., 988 So.2d 186 (La. 2008)

Legal standards for construction of insurance policies. (you only need to discuss the flood coverage issues, i.e. through [72])

Team 2

Barbara Landry v. Louisiana Citizens Property Ins. Co., 983 So.2d 66 (La. 2008)

This looks at the Louisiana Valued Policy Law and how it affects claims when there is a total loss. Help us understand Louisiana’s Valued Policy Law and why it was at issue in this case and what it tells us about coverage in cases with loses due to insured and non-insured losses.

(Teams 3 & 4 get their turn next class.)

The National Flood Insurance Program

Horn, Diane P., and Jared T. Brown. Introduction to the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). Congressional Research Service, 2019

You should read this – understanding the history of the NFIP and its structure is key to client counseling on flood risk and insurance.

NFIP Coverage limits

National Flood Insurance Program – Dwelling Form – Standard Flood Insurance Policy – F-122 / October 2015 – this is the actual residential flood insurance policy (Standard Flood Insurance Policy Forms – Current)

Look through the policy, using the edited FAQ for guidance. Figure out what sort of legal document this is. Hint – it is not a contract.

Materials for discussion: Answers to Questions about the National Flood Insurance Program – this is the official FAQ on the policies and the program. (2011 is the current version)

We are going to use this edited and highlighted version for class discussion: Answers to Questions about the National Flood Insurance Program – edited for discussion

Glossary of NFIP terms – flood zones are on D-11

April 4



Images of the Hurricane Katrina Damage on the Louisiana and Mississippi Coasts

Washing Away: Worst-case scenarios if a hurricane hits Louisiana (2002)

Scan these stories if you have not read them before. Three years before Hurricane Katrina, The Times-Picayune published a five-part series predicting what would happen if a hurricane hit Louisiana. These stories do a good job of anticipating what happened with Katrina – undermining the claims that the events of Katrina could not have been anticipated. From a legal point of view, whatever might have happened in the past, the Corps’ decision to not make any significant changes to the levees after the risks were publically know would establish the discretionary function defense.

Graphics from the story:

GOING UNDER (Graphic) – Hurricane Betsy flooded New Orleans with attic-high water in 1965, accelerating a massive public works effort to protect the area from storm surge and flooding. But advances in computer modeling show that dangerous weak spots in the levees could result in a catastrophic flood. Erosion and subsidence make south Louisiana all the more vulnerable to hurricanes.

LAST LINE OF DEFENSE: HOPING THE LEVEES HOLD (Graphic) – Army Corps of Engineers officials say hurricane levees in the New Orleans area will protect residents from a Category 3 hurricane moving rapidly over the area. But computer models indicate even weaker storms could find chinks in that armor.

Numbers Game: History says we’re due

Nature’s Ultimate Weapon: Biggest storms can release as much energy as 15 atomic bombs

Revisiting Georges: New Orleans’ close call with disaster

The Scourge of Surge: A look at how storm surge can tower over levees

The Cases

Slides – Katrina Litigation

In re Katrina Canal Breaches Consol. Lit., 533 F.Supp.2d 615 (E.D.La. 2008)

Read p. 26-35. This is the analysis of the application of the FCA that will carry through the case. In this opinion, it is applied to flood walls on the 17th Street Canal.

In re Katrina Canal Breaches Consolidated Litigation, 647 F.Supp.2d 644 (E.D.La. Nov 18, 2009) Final opinion and appendix.

Use these slides as you skim the opinion to find the core issues: Slides – In re Katrina Canal Breaches Consolidated Litigation, 647 F.Supp.2d 644 (2009)

 In re Katrina Levee Breaches, 5th Cir, Round II

The very rare situation where the 3 judge panel overrules itself, rather than the case going on to en banc review. Read [51] to the end. Before getting to the DFE, the court slightly modified the lower court’s interpretation of Sec. 702, but still focuses only on the MRGO and not the waters or the levees.

April 2


LSU Flood Map Site – start playing with this so you can get a sense of the flood map system before we talk about it next week.

‘Breaches Everywhere’: Midwest Levees Burst, and Tough Questions Follow

This is relevant to our flood law cases today. The impact of levees on increasing flood height was recognized in the first study of flood control on the Mississippi: Ellet, Charles. Report on the overflows of the delta of the Mississippi. AB Hamilton, 1852.

Western Arctic Warm Wave Is Smashing Early-Spring Records

Think about Kivalina.

Judge Blocks Oil and Gas Leases on Public Land, Citing Climate Change

Original Complaint – City of New Orleans/Orleans Parish v the oil industry for wetlands destruction.

Background on Hurricane Betsy

Mississippi Delta Subsidence in Action – Fort Proctor

This is a simple illustration of the subsidence on the east side of New Orleans since 1856. It shows that the process is old and ongoing and not something caused by the MRGO. It also shows why the New Orleans East has been flooding long before the MRGO was built.

The track of Hurricane Betsy – NOAA

Hurricane Betsy: Preliminary Report, with Advisories and Bulletins Issued, September 15th, 1965

DA Godeau & WC Conner, Storm surge over the Mississippi River delta accompanying Hurricane Betsy, 1965, 96 Monthly Weather Review 118–124 (1968).

Remembering Betsy: WVUE-TV 09/1990 

Watch this outside of class – pay special attention to the levee comments at about 12:30 and the ending comments at 27.

LBJ and Russel Long right after Hurricane Betsy:


Team 1

National Mfg. Co. v. United States. Great Western Paint Mfg. Corp., 210 F.2d 263 (8th Cir. 1954)

What is 702 immunity under the Flood Control Act of 1928 and does it survive the FTCA? (Only discuss the majority opinion.)

Slides – Team 1 – FCA and the FTCA

Team 2

Graci v. United States, 456 F.2d 20 (5th Cir. 1971)

The Hurricane Betsy case. How does the court get past Flood Control Act immunity? What is the Louisiana law it uses for the liability phase of the FTCA analysis? What is remanded?

Team 3

Graci v. U.S., 435 F.Supp. 189 (E.D.La. 1977)

What did the court decide on remand? Why did the plaintiff’s lose? What should this case tell the lawyers in the  Hurricane Katrina Levee Breach Cases?

Team 4

Central Green Co. v. United States, 531 U.S. 425 (2001)

The key Supreme Court case on Flood Control Act immunity for dual-use projects – what does 702 immunity really apply to? Is the Graci flood control structure analysis still good law after this?



March 28


Republic of Sudan v. Harrison

This will make sense after we talk about the FTCA – it is a reminder of the importance of technical notice requirements.

Bank of England to set new rules on climate risk

NuScale’s Reactors Seen as Hedge Against Future Climate Rules

Factory assembled, passive cooling modular reactors.


Federal Tort Claims Act Reader (2019s)

These are edited excerpts of the key FTCA cases. This class will lecture and discussion, no team presentations.

Slides – FTCA & Bivens


Texas City Disaster

Federal Tort Claims Act

§ 2674 – Liability of United States
§ 2680 – Exceptions
§ 2672 – Administrative adjustment of claims

Form 95

March 26


Before-and-After Images Show Ongoing Flood Disaster in Nebraska and Iowa

2019 National Hydrologic Assessment

Green New Deal vote tests Dem unity in Senate


This will end our look at climate litigation against the oil companies. I want to move to the flood cases before we run out the clock on the semester. These deal with state law nuisance claims and show the split in authority within the 9th Circuit.

County of San Mateo v. Chevron Corp. 2017 WL 3699867 (N.D.Cal.) – removal order

Team 1

The key to being dismissed for federal preemption is to be in federal court. The plaintiffs filed in state court and this is the order of remand to federal court. What are the defendants’ arguments for removal, i.e., why do they stay that plaintiff’s claims must implicitly depend on federal law? I would like to hear from the team members who missed class last Thursday, since they did not get a chance to present.

County of San Mateo v. Chevron Corp. – Team 1 Powerpoint


Cty. of San Mateo v. Chevron Corp., 294 F. Supp. 3d 934 (N.D. Cal. 2018) – remand to state courts

Team 2

How does the trial court justify remand, i.e., what are the unique state claims and the rationale for why they are not preempted, at least at this time.

City of Oakland v. BP P.L.C., 325 F. Supp. 3d 1017 (N.D. Cal. 2018)

Team 3

This case dismisses the state claims as preempted by federal law. What is the court’s rationale? Be through – this will be key in the long term for state-based climate cases. (You do not need to rehash the court’s climate science – this is the judge that had the science hearing,)

City of Oakland v. BP p.l.c., No. C 17-06011 WHA, 2018 WL 3609055 (N.D. Cal. July 27, 2018)

Team 4

This is an additional order that finds that there is no personal jurisdiction against several of the oil companies. Give us a good analysis of why – if the plaintiffs cannot get jurisdiction, their attempt to get enough companies in court to have a significant share of emitters is doomed.


March 21


The real reason the Trump administration is constantly losing in court

This story documents what we discussed in class Tuesday about the EPA and other agencies rushing things and not doing their legal homework.

The Fight to Tame a Swelling River With Dams That May Be Outmatched by Climate Change

Missouri River Master Manual


We are going to do cases by teams. What we do not finish we will hold over until next week.

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

Team 1 – this sets up the preemption argument that all climate change lawsuits based on suing oil companies will have to answer.

Comer v. Murphy Oil USA, Inc., 839 F. Supp. 2d 849 (S.D. Miss. 2012) aff’d, 718 F.3d 460 (5th Cir. 2013) –  read the case and the recusal story. (Comer v. Murphy Oil USA, 607 F.3d 1049 (5th Cir. 2010) – recusal order)

Team 2 – this is a fun local case. The recusal story is amazing. You are not responsible for the recusal order – I just found it.

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

Team 3 – the majority opinion

Team 4 – the concurrence


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



March 19


Most of Nebraska under state of emergency as ‘historic’ floodwaters ravage Midwest

Tropical Cyclone Idai’s Death Toll in Mozambique May Exceed 1,000

Big Southern Hemisphere tropical cyclones are unusual.


The next set of climate cases are emission cases against oil companies. They will be controlled by the Supreme Court’s findings on the extent that state law nuisance claims are preempted by the CAA. The starting point for this analysis is the endangerment finding promulgated in the wake of 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

We are going to look at the Endangerment Finding in more detail. I have highlighted the key parts so you can look at the highlights.

Clean Power Plan Final Rule, 80 FR 64662 (October 23, 2015)

Look at it to get a feel for the length and complexity. We are not going to read it.

Slides – Clean Power Plan Summary


Technical Support Document for the Findings (PDF)


Online Assignment 3 – Mass v. EPA


The Anti-Science Noise in the White House


Massachusetts v. E.P.A., 127 S.Ct. 1438 (2007)Study guide

Mass v. EPA is the key case on GHG regulation under the CAA. You have likely seen this case in varying levels of detail in other courses. These materials will bring everyone up to the same level on the case and set up our discussion of the Endangerment Finding and Clean Power Plan.

Narrated PowerPoints and the quiz have been posted.

Online Assignment 2 – Judicial review of Notice and Comment Rulemaking


There are no readings for this assignment. The narrated PowerPoint, a video of the PowerPoint (you only need to watch one), and the quiz, are on the class page on Moodle. (File size limits what I can post on the blog.)


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

Clean Power Plan Final Rule, 80 FR 64662 (October 23, 2015)

Online Assignment 1 – Introduction to Rulemaking


There are no readings for this assignment. The narrated PowerPoint, a video of the PowerPoint (you only need to watch one), and the quiz, are on the class page on Moodle. (File size limits what I can post on the blog.)

Resource Document

A Guide to the Rulemaking Process

March 7, March 12, and March 14

These classes will be covered with online materials done asynchronously – which means that you can read the materials, listen to the presentations, and work the quizzes on your own time frame. You do not need to log in during what would have been the class period. The quizzes count toward class participation points but are not a separate component of the final exam.  I will start posting the materials next week and I can strongly recommend that you not wait until the last minute to work through them.

March 5

No class! Happy Mardi Gras!

February 28


How transmission helped keep the lights on during the Polar Vortex

Coal and nuclear plants shut down at a higher rate than wind during the polar vortex.

Munich Re, TOPICS Geo Natural catastrophes 2017


Juliana – Government’s motion for mandamus

Team 1

INTRODUCTION AND RELIEF SOUGHT ………………………………………………………… 1
STATEMENT OF JURISDICTION ……………………………………………………………………….. 3
STATEMENT OF THE ISSUE ……………………………………………………………………………….. 3
STATEMENT OF RELEVANT FACTS …………………………………………………………………. 3
STANDARD OF REVIEW ……………………………………………………………………………………… 8

Team 2

REASON FOR GRANTING THE WRIT …………………………………………………………….. 10
I. The district court’s order denying the motion to dismiss is based on
clear error ……………………………………………………………………………………………. 10
A. The district court clearly erred by finding that plaintiffs adequately
alleged standing based on vague and attenuated allegations of
injury, causation and redressability ……………………………………………. 11
1. Plaintiffs did not allege a cognizable injury that is
particularized and concrete …………………………………………….. 13
2. Plaintiffs failed to adequately allege causation ………………… 15
3. Plaintiffs failed to adequately allege redressability …………… 19
B. The district court clearly erred by allowing plaintiffs to proceed
on their claim of a fundamental right under the due process
clause ………………………………………………………………………………………… 21
1. There is no basis in law for a due process right to a
particular climate system ………………………………………………… 22
2. Plaintiffs failed to identify any cause of action for their
claims ……………………………………………………………………………… 26
C. The district court clearly erred in holding that plaintiffs stated on
actionable “public trust” claim against the federal government … 28

Team 3

II. Mandamus is warranted to confine the district court to the lawful
exercise of its jurisdiction ……………………………………………………………………. 31
III. Defendants have no other means of obtaining immediate review needed
to avoid a serious intrusion on the separation of powers, and without
action by this court the defendants will be prejudiced in a way not
correctable on appeal …………………………………………………………………………… 32
IV. The order raises new and important problems and issues of first
impression …………………………………………………………………………………………… 37
V. A stay of proceedings is warranted ……………………………………………………… 38
CONCLUSION ………………………………………………………………………………………………………. 40

9th Circuit rejection of the government’s motion for mandamus

Team 4

February 26


Propagation of bad science:

Raw water: the unsterilised health craze that could give you diarrhoea

Anti-vaxx propaganda has gone viral on Facebook. Pinterest has a cure


See additional short assignment on Moodle.

I have prepared a detailed review guide to the district court order in Juliana. Teams 1-3 should use this to make sure that they clearly argue the points that the court deals with in its order. Team 4 does not need to address every point but should use this to check that they have identified the key issues.

Juliana – Oregon Children – Dist Court Order – Study Guide

Each team should prepare any presentation materials it deems useful to make its arguments. Take as much time as you need, we can spread this over more than one class.

Our teams will begin the discussion of Juliana v. United States, the Children’s Climate Case

Team One – argue the plaintiff’s standing case from the First Amended Complaint

Team Two – argue the plaintiff’s  claims for relief from the First Amended Complaint

Team Three – Argue for dismissal of plaintiff’s First Amended Complaint based on the Federal Defendant’s First Motion to Dismiss.

Team Four – Present the district court’s findings on standing and the plaintiff’s claims for relief.

Court Documents

Juliana v. United States, No. 6:15-CV-01517-TC – First Amended Complaint

Juliana v. United States, No. 6:15-CV-01517-TC – Federal Defendants First Motion to Dismiss

Juliana v. United States, No. 6:15-CV-01517-TC, 2016 WL 6661146 (D. Or. Nov. 10, 2016) – District Court Finds that Children have standing under public trust doctrine to bring climate action.

Juliana v. United States, No. 6:15-CV-01517-TC, 2016 WL 6661146 (D. Or. Nov. 10, 2016) – PDF


Children’s Trust WWW Site

February 21


‘Moment of reckoning’: US cities burn recyclables after China bans imports

White House prepares to scrutinize intelligence agencies’ finding that climate change threatens national security

Enforcement of Montreal Protocol through the CAA – United States v. Trident Seafoods Corp. , W.D. Wash., No. 19-cv-00231

Defendants Trident Seafoods Corporation (“Trident”), Royal Viking, Inc., and Golden Dawn, LLC (collectively, “Defendants”) own and/or operate fishing and seafood processing vessels off the coast of Alaska and the Pacific Northwest, and Trident owns and operates seafood processing and cold storage facilities and vessels throughout Alaska and the continental United States. Defendant Trident’s facilities and Defendants’ vessels employ refrigeration appliances that use an ozone-depleting Refrigerant gas known as chlorodifluoromethane or HCFC-22, also known as R-22. As alleged herein, Defendants failed to comply with Title VI of the Clean Air Act (“Stratospheric Ozone Protection”), 42 U.S.C. §§ 7671-7671q, and the regulations set forth in 40 C.F.R. Part 82, Subpart F, because they failed to repair and test leaking refrigeration appliances, failed to maintain adequate records and equipment, and used uncertified technicians to service refrigeration appliances.


Paris Climate Agreement – background information

The Paris Agreement Summary

Concentrate on these two and the slides – Slides: Overview of the Paris Agreement


Paris Climate Agreement – Official Text

Kyoto Protocol

February 19


Will Trump Kill the Montreal Agreement?


The Montreal Protocol is perhaps the only successful international environmental law treaty. While not intended as a climate treaty, it has proven to be the first effective climate treaty as well. We are doing to study it before we look at the Paris Agreement to see if why the Montreal Protocol works, and whether it can be generalized or whether it is a unique case.

Technical background

You have seen these before. They are either short or you only need to scan them as background for the discussion

Molina, Mario J., and F. Sherwood Rowland. “Stratospheric sink for chlorofluoromethanes: chlorine atom-catalysed destruction of ozone.” Nature 249.5460 (1974): 810. (the first ozone hole paper)

This is the first paper describing the problem. Just scan this as background. It is notable for how quickly the world responded.

The Hole – A film on the Montreal Protocol, narrated by Sir David Attenborough

A 5 minute overview of the CFC problem.

Chlorofluorocarbons and Ozone Depletion – A National Historic Chemical Landmark

Additional non-technical background information on the treaty.

EPA, Stratospheric Ozone Protection: 30 Years of Progress and Achievements (2017)

The impact of the treaty on ozone.

Velders, Guus JM, et al. “The importance of the Montreal Protocol in protecting climate.” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 104.12 (2007): 4814-4819.

Just look at the abstract.

The Montreal Protocol

Summary – Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer

Report on the World Bank Multilateral Fund for the Implementation of the Montreal Protocol (2007)

Key provisions to understand:

How does the Protocol resolve the conflict between developed and developing nations?

What is the purpose of the Multilateral Fund? Who provides the money?

How is Protocol structured to allow it to evolve through time?


Montreal Protocol – working


February 14


Rather than just critiquing the Green New Deal, think about what a proper House resolution should contain. What do you think would better a better pitch to gain public support, as opposed to targeting the party activists who dominate the primary process.

When we finish the discussion, we will return to treaty and executive agreement basics.

Slides – Treaty and International Law Basics

February 12


Washington measles outbreak draws crowd to hearing on vaccine law (opposition to the law)

Climate Change Could Leave Thousands of Lakes Ice-Free


The Green New Deal is heating up. Add these materials to your Green New Deal materials from last class.

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Releases Green New Deal Outline

House Resolution: Recognizing the duty of the Federal Government to create a Green New Deal.

New – The Green New Deal and Sprawl

This is a more fleshed out proposal in the form of a House Resolution. Read it carefully. We want to talk about whether it makes sense, whether the timeframe is realistic, whether mixing social justice issues – however important – with climate issues is good politics, and what it means that it is deliberately vague on nuclear.

Pro and con opinions on the politics of the green new deal:

‘We’re nuts!’ isn’t a great pitch for a Green New Deal

The Green New Deal Rises Again

Think about this quote from inside the article:

“Like so much of the American left, the environmental movement has become acclimated to the notion that it is operating outside the mainstream, knocking sheepishly on the door. Its rallying cry might as well be, ‘If it’s not too much trouble. …’”

From Wired

To be fair and balanced, the Fox view:

We will round out the class as time permits with my introduction to international agreements. We will carry the Montreal Protocol materials over the next class.

Slides – Treaty and International Law Basics

February 7


First congressional hearings on climate change in 8 years

Democrats Formally Call for a Green New Deal, Giving Substance to a Rallying Cry

2018 was 4th hottest year on record for the globe

Another front in the war against science – vaccinations

While there is some overlap between anti-vaccine groups and anti-climate groups, there are also significant numbers of climate believers who are anti-vaccine.


Discuss a pragmatic view of adaption to climate change – risks and opportunities.

An overview of the Green New Deal and its politics.

Think about the timelines. The Clean Water Act, passed in 1972, set a deadline of 1983 to clean up all the waters of the United States. (While exempting about 50% of emissions.)

What about social justice issues? Are these in conflict with climate issues?

Proposed Legislation – Establishment of the Select Committee For A Green New Deal.

Review the details of this proposed legislation so we can discuss it in class.


February 5


When Does the Windy City Lose Wind Power? During a Polar Vortex


We are going to start the class with a somewhat upbeat discussion of living with climate change to try to put the impact of climate change into personal terms for folks such as law students.

Then we are going to begin looking 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. 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

January 31


NOAA – Polar Vortex


Climate Change 2014 Synthesis Report – Fifth Assessment Report – Read pp. 2-31

This is the 2014 report for policymakers, i.e., not scientists. We will read the summary.


IPCC 2014 Syn Report – Graphics

January 29


Brace for the Polar Vortex; It May Be Visiting More Often

Gone in a generation: Across America, climate change is already disrupting lives.


First, we will discuss lose ends from last class.

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 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.

Finally, read this recent summary for policymakers (non-scientists) on why it is critical to keep warming below 1.5 degrees C. (And think about the reality that we are going to miss that, probably by at least 1 degree.)

IPCC, 2018: Summary for Policymakers. In: Global warming of 1.5°C. An IPCC Special Report on the impacts of global warming of 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels and related global greenhouse gas emission pathways, in the context of strengthening the global response to the threat of climate change, sustainable development, and efforts to eradicate poverty [V. Masson-Delmotte, P. Zhai, H. O. Pörtner, D. Roberts, J. Skea, P. R. Shukla, A. Pirani, et. al. World Meteorological Organization, Geneva, Switzerland, 32 pp.


Illustrations from the report:

January 24

Continue discussion from last class.

State of Louisiana—Highlighting Low-Lying Areas Derived from USGS Digital Elevation Data By John J. Kosovich 2008

January 22


A little more climate science and a look at the last few million years in Louisiana.

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.


holocene temperature reconstructions

The Mississippi Delta Cycle

January 17


GAO – Activities of Selected Agencies to Address Potential Impact on Global Migration


I will do a basic introduction to 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.


I normally use several NOAA resource pages, but they are unavailable because of the shutdown. NOAA

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

What is the temperature on the Moon?

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

How did the earth’s atmosphere form?

Heat capacity of water

What are the main greenhouse gases?

Water as a GHG

What causes the seasons?

Temperature, CO2, and CH4 through time

Solar Variability

Milankovitch cycles – more detail

What is Ocean Acidification?

January 15

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.

Poll Everywhere Mobile App


Find a climate change law issue in the news.

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

Slides – Climate-Science Communication and the Measurement Problem

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 mind.

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.

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