Culture & Ethics

What Threatens Biodiversity?

Silverback mountain gorilla in Rwanda (2007)

Are we too worried about climate change to focus on the other problems we know about?

Yesterday, Nature published a noteworthy comment on the biodiversity crisis, written by researchers at the University of Queensland and the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). The piece is based on a study of 8,688 species that are classified on the IUCN’s Red List either as threatened (vulnerable, endangered, or critically endangered) or near-threatened. The main […]

Continue Reading

The Libertarian Party and the Environment

The Libertarian Party platform leaves many open questions about environmental protection.

A number of people seem drawn to the Libertarian Party during this election cycle.  As it turns out, the Party believes not only in minimal government but a minimal platform.  Compared to the platforms of the major parties, the Libertarian platform is blessedly brief. (It also seems notably more purist than the Party’s presidential ticket.) […]

Continue Reading

Red, white, blue and smog

fireworks 3

Fireworks leave behind a lot of pollutants

As a kid on the South Side of Chicago, summertime meant seeing White Sox games at Comiskey Park (technically now called U.S. Cellular Park, but I will never call it that). If the Sox won, there were fireworks. And on Saturdays, there were fireworks even if they didn’t. I have a distinct memory of asking […]

Continue Reading

Mr. Jefferson’s Bridge

Natural_Bridge_VA_size

Anticipating modern environmental views, Jefferson viewed nature as a public trust.

This being the Fourth of July, it seems appropriate to talk about Jefferson’s relationship with nature. A revealing example involves some land he owned between Lexington and Roanoke.  Two years before the Declaration of Independence, Jefferson purchased 157 acres of land  from the King.  He bought the land because it contained a remarkable feature — a 200-foot […]

Continue Reading

Let Us Now Praise Famous Plants

Lace Lichen

Taking environmental law education outdoors

Lawyers spend their lives among tree slices (using 20,000-100,00 sheets of paper per attorney annually), but distressingly little time among whole trees. This became evident when I hauled a class of bemused clinical environmental law students up a wooded slope near the UC Berkeley campus this spring for a lesson spanning ecology, agency jurisdiction, and […]

Continue Reading

The Irony of a Developing Nation’s Climate Agenda

AerialViewPhotochemicalSmogMexicoCity_2

The challenge of developing and decarbonizing at the same time

Mexico has been busy. Or at least, its energy and environmental ministers have been. Over the last several years, Mexico has held its first auction for renewable energy contracts, opened its energy market to private competitors, and increased its renewable energy capacity by more than thirty times the level in 2008. At the same time, […]

Continue Reading

“My Climate Plan is Yuge!” Sez Trump

151210_POL_Trump-Cruz.jpg.CROP.promo-xlarge2

Campaign takes a strange turn on April 1

Donald Trump apparently opened a new front in his war with Ted Cruz last night with this tweet: “My climate plan is HUGE! Ted’s plan is tiny, tiny, tiny.” Cruz immediately struck back: “Trump’s climate plan is as small as his hands!” Establishment Republicans were appalled that the presidential campaign had reached a new low. […]

Continue Reading

A Little Quieter, Please

Not King of the World

Hollywood Stars Might Not Be the Best Public Critics of the Fossil Fuel Industry

Canada’s new Liberal government can hardly be accused of being soft on climate change: at the recent Paris Summit it endorsed a target of holding global warming to 1.5 Degrees Celsius over historic levels. So when you hear this from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, listen: Most recently in Davos on Wednesday, [Leonardo] DiCaprio used a […]

Continue Reading

Questioning the Questioners

Repub Debate

Examining the role of moderators in Presidential debates

On Sunday night, the three remaining candidates for the Democratic presidential nomination took the stage in South Carolina for the third Democratic primary debate. I was pleased that one of the video questions of the night asked the candidates for their plan to address climate change. Although the Democratic candidates have discussed climate change policies […]

Continue Reading

Goodbye, Wawona?

An Endangered Species?

Trademark Dispute Threatening Iconic Yosemite Names Could All Be A Big Poker Game

It’s great doing environmental law in no small part because it is interdisciplinary: not only do environmental lawyers and scholars have their own field, but they engage with scientists and engineers, as well as specialists in other legal areas (such as constitutional or tort law). Still, I had never seen an environmental trademark controversy. Until now: […]

Continue Reading