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Seeking Prudent Policy in the Face of Uncertainty: Observations on an AALS Discussion of Global Climate Change

July 2002

Citation: ELR 10827

Author: Joel A. Mintz

On January 5, 2002, the fourth day of the 102d annual meeting of the Association of American Law Schools (AALS) in New Orleans, Louisiana, the section on environmental law sponsored a well-attended, provocative panel discussion entitled "Global Climate Change Policy and Perspectives." The session was moderated by Prof. Mark Squillace of the University of Wyoming Law School. Participants included Haroon S. Khesgi, the global climate change science program leader for Mobil Exxon Research and Engineering Company, and a principal author of the first volume of the recently published Third Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)1; Vicki Arroyo Cochran, the director of Policy Analysis of the Pew Center on Global Climate Change; Alberto Szekely, ambassador/advisor to the government of Mexico; and Daniel M. Bodansky, a law professor at the University of Washington and (from August 1999 to June 2001) the climate change coordinator at the U.S. Department of State (State Department). Several environmental law professors attending the discussion also volunteered lively and interesting comments and questions.

This Dialogue is intended both to summarize and to comment upon the remarks of the participants in this panel discussion. In particular, I will recount and assay their observations in two distinct areas: the current state of scientific knowledge concerning the causes, extent and impacts of global climate change, and the political responses that the United States and the international community have made and should make to the global climate change.

The author is a Professor of Law at Nova Southeastern University Shepard Law Center in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. He writes frequently on selected aspects of environmental law as well as state and local government law.

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