Buy

Books
Click images for more details

Support

 

Twitter
Recent comments
Recent posts
Currently discussing
Links

A few sites I've stumbled across recently....

Powered by Squarespace
« Has the BBC banned all non-alarmist views? | Main | Is good news actually news at all? »
Monday
Oct122015

Justiciable climate?

Attempts by environmentalists to gain an advantage in the climate wars through the courts continue to attract the interest of commentators, particularly those on the sceptic side. Judith Curry has a review of some recent developments and Booker was discussing similar questions behind the Sunday Telegraph's paywall over the weekend.

I'm unsure about just how far the legal system is going to accept the kinds of cases that the greens are hoping for. It may well be that it depends on the particular jurisdiction. Philippe Sands reckons that because international courts involved themselves in the question of whether the Japanese whaling programme was scientific, they can (and should) involve themselves in questions of climate change. This seems an almost preposterously weak argument for a senior lawyer to make. Whether some activity is scientific or not is a question of categorisation - quite different to questions such as "What is the value of climate sensitivity?"

Interestingly, while a professor of international law can make such a lame case, a more mature understanding is demonstrated by Laura Hardcastle, an undergraduate law student at Victoria University in Wellington, New Zealand. Her dissertation was cited in the Sharman paper I discussed the other day, and I note it has also been cited by a former Prime Minister of New Zealand. I'm therefore reasonably comfortable in presenting it as a credible source.

Hardcastle makes the point that the courts are inherently unsuitable for deciding scientific matters, which should therefore remain non-justiciable. This seems eminently sensible to me. She goes on to explain that an exception should be made for cases of scientific fraud. I think she is right here as well, because of course the question of whether a scientist has behaved fraudulently is not really a scientific question, it's a question about the permissibility of their behaviour.

If we accept Hardcastle's case, then Sands' hopes for help for his cause from the courts will come to nothing. That still leaves greens' agitation for a RICO case in the USA. Here, you might argue the question is one that might - in principle at least - be justiciable. However, whether any court would give more than a moment's consideration to what is little more than a conspiracy theory is another question altogether.

PrintView Printer Friendly Version

Reader Comments (20)

If climate alarmists demand legal intervention against sceptics you can be sure those sceptics will make similar demands of alarmists. Look how quickly Steve McIntyre took down Shukla. Looking at NASA / GISS and NOAA, it's hard to see their endless (and clearly synchronised) data adjustments being justified by observations, and on the back of their manually-driven hysteria they receive endless cash, work and reputational benefits. If that's not a RICO issue then what is?

Mann's case against Steyn is a perfect example of the best laid plans going badly awry. They should be very careful what they wish for.

Oct 12, 2015 at 11:10 AM | Unregistered CommenterCheshireRed

It irks me the number of otherwise intelligent people who are completely vulnerable to the 'climate science is settled' meme. I doubt they'd ever apply it to anything other than AGW. OK on an issue you might say 'I'll accept the consensus for the time being' but you rarely draw a line under any science. Ruling on AGW issues would mean that it would be effectively illegal to present the truth, should it differ from the... from what? What is the consensus? What things would judges rule are inarguable?

It stems from the vast amount of misinformation and lack of public education from the main warmist institutions. They've fostered the idea that the issues are simple.

Oct 12, 2015 at 11:29 AM | Unregistered CommenterTinyCO2

If the Supreme Court would make a ruling on Dark Matter and String Theory then they would save £millions - or am I missing something here?

Oct 12, 2015 at 12:05 PM | Unregistered Commentergraphicconception

I expect some judges place their faith in astrology, and check the Defendants starsign and horoscope, at the time of the alleged offence, not just on the critical day of judgement and sentencing.

This will help balance the ying and yang of climate science in law and fact, especially if there have been ethereal rumours of Unidentified Flying Crop Circles, crossing the leylines.

Oct 12, 2015 at 12:30 PM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

[Hardcastle] goes on to explain that an exception should be made for cases of scientific fraud
And thereby hangs the thread: I believe that many 'scientists' in the AGW/CC bubble wonder what could happen to them when the bubble bursts and they find themselves responsible for all the negative affects of their advocacy - which could be seen as fraud. By getting judicial rulings to support their theories and the existence of AGW/CC they will be able to cite precedence when they are later found wanting. They want to avoid their own Nuremberg.

Oct 12, 2015 at 12:47 PM | Registered CommenterHarry Passfield

Didn't a German court make a ruling several years back that flatly contradicted verified physics ? - and have to resort to some extended lexical hoopla to extricate themselves from looking as stupid as?

If anybody has the reference - I'd appreciate a link :-)

Oct 12, 2015 at 1:48 PM | Registered Commentertomo

Barely off topic, for some light relief, checkout the two animations of one Stephan Lewandowsky over at CLIMATE NUREMBERG. It made my day.

Oct 12, 2015 at 3:02 PM | Unregistered Commentermichael hart

three actually

Oct 12, 2015 at 3:03 PM | Unregistered Commentermichael hart

Tiny says: "It irks me the number of otherwise intelligent people who are completely vulnerable to the 'climate science is settled' meme."

What I find more baffling is that these exact same people have never trusted anything scientists have said since the 60's, and are all too sure that the drug companies, GM researchers, atomic scientists, geologists in the pay of "big oil", and many more are pure evil and totally untrustworthy, but take the word of climate scientists as gospel and somehow think it is "anti-science" to question them.

Oct 12, 2015 at 4:00 PM | Registered Commentersteve ta

I'm off to Indiana, to revive the law stating that Pi=3......

Oct 12, 2015 at 4:01 PM | Unregistered CommenterDodgy Geezer

tomo,

I don't know about the German court ruling, but the affair of Galileo and the Inquisition comes to mind. 1630s I recall.

Oct 12, 2015 at 4:05 PM | Unregistered Commentercosmic

...Hardcastle makes the point that the courts are inherently unsuitable for deciding scientific matters, which should therefore remain non-justiciable. This seems eminently sensible to me. She goes on to explain that an exception should be made for cases of scientific fraud. I think she is right here as well...

That sounds like a very easy dissertation?

'Science' is often treated like some semi-magical road to absolute truth. It is not. It is simply a mode of thinking, characterised by making hypotheses and comparing the results of these to observation, which is optimised for examining natural phenomena. Successful predictions indicate some level of 'truth', until they are disproved.

There are several other comparable fields of human efforts to obtain 'truth'. Philosophy, Art, Politics and Law, all have their own techniques for obtaining 'truth' in their respective disciplines. To suggest that techniques used for Law should be applied to Science is as strange as suggesting that the techniques of Art should be applied to Politics. Perhaps we should reverse the requirement, and measure Sands' proposals using Scientific method.

Of course, in all the above cases fraud should be dealt with using the law. It's a legal concept. We have had fraud cases in Art, Politics, Science and, no doubt, in Law as well. I can't see why a dissertation is needed to point this out...

Oct 12, 2015 at 4:18 PM | Unregistered CommenterDodgy Geezer

cosmic

The German ruling was some time back (iirc not the virus business that Google continually returns with) and just maybe I'm embroidering the memory of a provincial German higher court getting it wildly wrong - and refusing to acknowledge an obvious mistake.

To even the casual observer of The Law - the inferred presumption of infallibility by "Prof" Sands (and his chums) simply stinks - since they obviously have made their minds up that "the deniers are wrong and criminal" - and they are setting about silencing them or worse - in the meantime self enrichment is a welcome side effect.....

Miscarriages of justice never happen eh?

Oct 12, 2015 at 4:28 PM | Registered Commentertomo

The word "Gospel" has been mentioned above, which prompted the thought: What if Sands had tried to make the case that God deniers should be prosecuted?

Oct 12, 2015 at 4:41 PM | Unregistered CommenterIan

Ian, that would only apply in the case of a jealous and vengeful God. Otherwise there's no risk to denying it.
Such a Deity is Carbon Dioxide.

I have noted in the past that the fear of CO2 is so absolute that it breaks the First Commandment (comment at Sep 28, 2015 at 12:23 PM).
This is just a new blasphemy law for followers of a false religion.

Oct 12, 2015 at 4:46 PM | Registered CommenterM Courtney

What I find more baffling is that these exact same people have never trusted anything scientists have said since the 60's, and are all too sure that the drug companies, GM researchers, atomic scientists, geologists in the pay of "big oil", and many more are pure evil and totally untrustworthy, but take the word of climate scientists as gospel and somehow think it is "anti-science" to question them.

Oct 12, 2015 at 4:00 PM | Registered Commentersteve ta

You get my vote, every time, steve ta.

Oct 12, 2015 at 4:48 PM | Unregistered Commentermichael hart

Incidentally, if you wish to read the Telegraph daily you can avoid being blocked by changing your computer settings to: 'Delete all cookies when I shut down'. Cookies are not for your benefit and I have not found any disadvantage in doing this

Oct 12, 2015 at 5:24 PM | Unregistered Commenterddyyllaann

Oct 12, 2015 at 5:24 PM | Unregistered Commenterddyyllaann

Or, right-click on an article link and select "Open in New private Window" (Firefox)

"Open Incognito Window" (Chrome)

Oct 12, 2015 at 8:40 PM | Unregistered Commenterclipe

In addition to the Galileo trial that Cosmic mentioned there is a much more recent precedent for what the Greens want. After the publication of the Skeptical Environmentalist complaints were made to the Danish Committees on Scientific Dishonesty (DCSD) which found Lomborg guilty. However the verdict was overturned by the Danish Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bjørn_Lomborg

Oct 12, 2015 at 11:03 PM | Unregistered CommenterRoy

Thanks michael hart. For your amusement and that of Messrs Courtney, here are all the animations so far. (There's more than three, but fewer than I'd like.)

Speaking of Climate Nuremberg, it's interesting how it used to be understood without question that it referred to the dream of putting skeptics on trial. Now the default assumption seems to have flipped, because nobody seriously thinks believalists are going to win The Climate Wars anymore—notwithstanding their victories in a range of media battles.

Personally, I just wanted to blog about the weather in greater metropolitan Nürnberg and the beautiful Middle Franconia region of Bavaria in general. Little did I know that the logical choice of domain name would be politicised by forces beyond any individual's control.

Oct 13, 2015 at 4:48 PM | Unregistered CommenterBrad Keyes

PostPost a New Comment

Enter your information below to add a new comment.

My response is on my own website »
Author Email (optional):
Author URL (optional):
Post:
 
Some HTML allowed: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <code> <em> <i> <strike> <strong>