Title

Climate scientists set the bar of proof too high

Document Type

Article

Publication Date

4-1-2021

Keywords

Extreme event attribution, Legal contexts of climate attribution, Policy and evidence, Science communication, Standards of proof

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.

Publication Title

Climatic Change

ISSN

01650009

E-ISSN

15731480

Volume

165

Issue

3-4

DOI

10.1007/s10584-021-03061-9

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