Daubert Cases and Credible Science Issues
Update: We have previously reported on a key Daubert case from the Ninth Circuit involving the validity of scientific methodology to identify a source of groundwater contamination, City of Pomona v. SQM North America Corp., 750 F.3d 1036 (9th Cir. 2014), cert. pending No. 14-297. Briefing on the petition for certiorari is now complete, and the case has been set for determination by the High Court on December 12, 2014.
An industrial party, SQM North America has petitioned Supreme Court to review 9th Circuit decision reversing the trial court’s exclusion of hydrogeologist’s testimony under Daubert in a case involving claims of groundwater contamination alleged due to perchlorate. The Court has extended the time to file a response to the petition for certiorari to November 13, 2014. The docket sheet is available here.
Climate Change—Science and Issues
The U.S. EPA has published the third edition of its peer-reviewed report, Climate Change Indicators in the United States (EPA 2014), which is available online. EPA’s latest report takes a look at a number of indicators of climate change that may be linked to human activity, and summarizes its key findings as: “All of the indicators discussed in this report relate to either the causes or effects of climate change. Some indicators are directly linked to human activities that cause climate change, such as Global Greenhouse Gas Emissions. Changes depicted by other indicators, such as U.S. and Global Temperature, have been confidently linked with the increase in greenhouse gases caused by human activity. Some of the trends in other indicators, such as Wildfires, although consistent with what one would expect in a warming climate, cannot yet be firmly attributed to human-induced climate change for various reasons (for example, limitations in the historical data, or other factors in addition to climate change that may influence the trend). A few indicators do not yet show any significant trend over the period for which data are available.”
The UN’s IPCC releases new report on climate change and the urgent need to reduce carbon emissions. For a summary of the Fifth Synthesis report, released November 2, 2014. For a summary of the report read, click here. For a copy of the full IPCC report, visit here.
Other Science and Technology Issues
Scientists Use Tree Ring Measurements to Show that California’s current Drought Is worst in over a Millennium: Scientists working at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute based in Cape Cod, Massachusetts and the University of Minnesota used data from California’s blue oak tree rings to measure in historic terms the severity of the current drought (2012-2014) is in the state. Their research concluded that California’s current drought ranks among the worst in some 1200 years. As one of the researchers put it: “ . . . [T]here is no doubt, that we are entering a new era where human-wrought changes to the climate system will become important for determining the severity of droughts and their consequences for coupled human and natural systems." A copy of the news release for this latest science research is available here.
GAO Report Summarizes Federal Actions and Additional Questions in Ocean Acidification. In its report, GAO reviews ongoing federal efforts, including the National Science & Technology Committee’s subcommittee on Ocean Science & Technology to understand and monitor the impacts of acidification of the oceans. The GAO’s report, issued on October 14, 2014, is available here.