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Elisabeth Lloyd - "Why Storylines Can Provide Evidence for Climate Change in Extreme Events: The Risks of False Negatives"

Elisabeth Lloyd
*Gilbert Hall, Room 118
Special Information:
*Note the Gilbert Hall location, there will be no reception after the lecture. This lecture is possible with support from the Willson Center for Humanities & Arts

Elisabeth Lloyd will speak on "Why Storylines can Provide Evidence for Climate Change in Extreme Events: The Risks of False Negatives" on Friday, February 21 at 3:30pm in 118 Gilbert Hall as part of the Scott & Heather Kleiner Lecture Series presented by the UGA Department of Philosophy. Lloyd is a Distinguished Professor of History and Philosophy of Science and Medicine and Professor of Biology at Indiana University. She is also an affiliated Faculty Scholar with the Kinsey Institute for Research as well as an adjunct faculty member at the Center for the Integrative Study of Animal Behavior.


Within climate science, the field of Detection and Attribution concerns the detection of anthropogenic effects on climate; the attribution part concerns how much or how severe these effects are, that is, how many degrees of temperature, how much extra precipitation or hurricane force, is due to the increase in anthropogenic causes. In other words, to what extent is a given extreme event attributable to the increase in greenhouse gases?

I consider two basic methods for attributing climate change to extreme weather events, the probabilistic approach and the storyline method that was recently introduced, the latter being somewhat controversial. I defend the use of the storyline approach to attribution and discuss how it has been applied in the legal context, showing that opposition to the approach is ill-founded. I illustrate the fruitfulness of an alternative approach to error advocated by Naomi Oreskes and I—i.e., being more lenient about false positive, i.e., Type I, error, with a corresponding lesser tolerance for false negatives—in a published examination of hurricanes, and conclude with a discussion of a very recent attack on the storyline approach.

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