Luke Cole, Environmental Justice Activist, Killed in Car Crash

I’m very sorry to report the news that Luke Cole, long-time environmental justice advocate, was killed in a car accident this week in Uganda.  Luke had taken a sabbatical from the Center for Race, Poverty and the Environment , which he headed, to travel the world (he was also my law school classmate and  friend).   His death was announced by his father, Skip Cole, on Luke’s Facebook page.

Cole was well-known for his work on numerous leading environmental justice cases, including as counsel for the Native Village of Kivalina in its pathbreaking case seeking damages from large greenhouse gas emitters from the melting away of their Alaskan village.  He was also a prolific writer, and  co-authored an influential book with Professor Sheila Foster  From the Ground Up:  Environmental Racism and the Rise of the Environmental Justice Movement (NYU Press 2001).  He taught courses in Environmental Justice at UC Berkeley, UC Hastings and Stanford Law.  Berkeley’s Ecology Law Quarterly honored Luke in 1997 with its Environmental Leadership Award.  He is survived by his wife, Nancy, and his son Zane.

He will be missed.

Reader Comments

16 Replies to “Luke Cole, Environmental Justice Activist, Killed in Car Crash”

  1. It is so hard to believe. May Luke’s spirit live on in each of us, whose life he touched.

  2. Rest my friend. I am in full confidence that you are being received with open arms by our ancestors!
    Your work was un-matchable by your humble and loving spirit! By the true ‘moves’ you made for change!!
    Stunned with your leaving right now.
    Bless us all,

  3. I am heartbroken. So, heartbroken. I will miss you, my dearest friend. Everything you gave me in friendship lives on in me. We will watch over Nancy. You mustn’t worry, Luke.

    Descansa, querido amigo.

  4. I’m stupefied & immensely saddened at this turn of events. Luke was always one of those birders I most enjoyed running into somewhere out in the great wide world, whether down in Kings Co or on the trail of some rarity in the Bay Area or perhaps as co-leader on a California Pelagic birding adventure. His humor, kind spirit, & easy ways in combination with his great heart, dedication & skills will be most sorely missed. I am perhaps just a casual friend yet I feel this loss so much because Luke was such a fine being in so many ways & in so many realms. There is so much of you & about you to miss mio amico. Peace & remembrance to us all, especially those closest to his heart.

    May you soar on wings of your choosing, in great peace, upon sweet sweet airs. Ciao amicone

  5. I still can’t believe it. I will miss you so much Luke! I’m so sad we didn’t get a chance to catch up one more time. You will always be an inspiration to me. I hope that you continue to grace us with your spirit and infectious laugh for a long time. Te queremos mucho Luke!

    P.S. Everytime I go to Fog City News, I think of you! 🙂 Thank you for the chocolates during finals!

    CRPE forever! Luke Cole forever!

  6. My heart goes out to Luke’s Family. He will always be an inspiration in my organizing and my birding. A great strategist for community organizing and his many years ago 500th bird “Limpkin and styrofoam”.

  7. I’m so shocked and sad.

    Luke’s irreverent sense of humor and commitment to making our planet a better place to live are just two of the many wonderful parts of his personality that I’ll always remember and cherish. Any time spent with Luke was time that uplifted me. And the two of us always seemed to be neck and neck for getting in the most trouble for our playfulness and irreverance.

    Throw in the fact that both of us worked as directors of non-profit programs, and you’ll understand why I feel I’ve lost a brother.

    I’d love to be more eloquent here and now, but the true eloquence was Luke’s life, and the quality he brought to it and all those around him.

  8. I should not be the first one of our group to write here, but Luke was one of the 39 passengers on board of the Russian ship Multanovskiy that crossed the Atlantic from Ushuaia, Argentina via Antarctica to Cape Town (24 March-18 April), from where he went to Madagascar and then Uganda.
    He was a really tremendously wonderful person to have been travelling with and he liked and was liked by everybody. One evening he did a quiz in the bar, after having talked with every other passenger, and his quiz was that everybody should guess by a very short description which passenger was meant by it, usually something about their profession or a hobby. It showed how much he was interested in other people. I asked him if he had talked with everybody for making this quiz or that he is such a guy who always talks with everybody. He said “both”.
    I am very shocked and sad too. I keep a memory of him through the videos I made. He would have seen that upon his return home, as I was going to send it to the Center within a few days.
    A very big honour to have known him.

  9. hows the wife doing? not easy Nancy but we love you –lets have the faith like luke to believe that there is a better way tears here but also much much gratitude and hope jerry apple grower /preservationist in beautiful sonoma county

  10. Luke you will truley be missed by all the children you protected. The work you did was from the heart, and your work will keep moving foward from the future, the children. We need more Luke Coles and Jacob Crespos we will count on you only now both of you will be in the main law library helping us.We will be looking to you both for ansewers.
    Taylor, Torin & Donovan

    P.S. Please look after our friend Jacob Crespo

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About Ann

Ann Carlson is currently on leave from UCLA School of Law. She is the Shirley Shapiro Professor of Environmental Law and was the founding Faculty Director of the Emmett I…

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About Ann

Ann Carlson is currently on leave from UCLA School of Law. She is the Shirley Shapiro Professor of Environmental Law and was the founding Faculty Director of the Emmett I…

READ more