Climate Change

Delayed harm and the politics of climate change, reconsidered

How much does zero emissions warming commitment matter, and what are its political implications?

The world is gathering soon in Glasgow to debate how to eliminate greenhouse gas emissions over the coming decades. But what happens when we achieve the goal of zero carbon dioxide emissions from human actions? Does the climate keep warming, stay the same, or even cool? It turns out this is a critical question for …

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Never Give Up. Never Surrender.

Even if we miss our targets, simply shaving or flattening the carbon curve would be worth fighting for.

Although lacking the same eloquence, today’s post is in the spirit of Churchill’s famous speech promising that Britain would “fight on the beaches, … we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender.” My point is this: No matter how many battles we end up losing in the fight to stop carbon emissions, we …

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Climate and Colonialism: Some Columbus Day Thoughts

Is climate change itself a form of colonialism?

“In 1492, Columbus sailed the ocean blue.” That’s what we learned in my grade school. Today, Columbus Day remains a day of celebration for some but has become a symbols of colonialism for others. Rather than entering that debate, I’d like to reflect on how issues of colonialism might relate to climate change. The study …

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Report from Planet X

Help, our energy system screwed up our planet!

A long time ago, in another galaxy far far away . . . . Dear Galactic Governance Collaborative, Those of us who colonized Planet X now find ourselves in dangerous straits. We request urgent assistance due to escalating environmental instability.  You’re thinking  it’s not easy to screw up an entire planet. You’re right about that. …

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Africa in 2050

The continent will face vast challenges. Dealing with them is a global priority.

Take explosive population growth, acute vulnerability to future climate change, and social vulnerability.  Stir well and bake. That’s a recipe for trouble. It’s also Africa in 2050. Overcoming the resulting problems is among humanity’s greatest challenges. Currently, 490 million Africans live below the extreme poverty level ($2/day per person). The number is rising but the …

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The Origins of Climate Awareness in the Legal Academy

Forty years ago, the legal academia was getting its first glimmering about climate change.

Today, climate change is the central, though by no means the only, concern in environmental law. Awareness of the issue began slowly, however. Westlaw searches for “global warming” and “greenhouse effect” pick up only a handful of citations before 1985. The earliest mentions of these terms in the law review literature came in the late …

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Dear 1L . . . .

Welcome to law school. You’re just in time to help save the world.

Dear 1L: You’ve gotten to law school at a crucial time for the future of the planet. The good news is that you’re arriving at a pivotal point when your work as a lawyer can make a big difference. The bad news is that we have a limited amount of time to get the situation …

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Tackling Agricultural Methane: An Overview of the Science

Promising strategies and technologies to address an urgent climate priority

(This post was authored by Eric Peshkin, a JD candidate at NYU School of Law and CLEE summer research assistant) Agricultural greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from the raising of livestock and growth of crops for human consumption represent 14% of global GHG emissions. Methane (CH4) is a central GHG generated during agricultural production (via microbial …

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What if someone just does it?

A scenario exercise on unauthorized use of solar geoengineering

Note: This post is co-authored with Jesse L. Reynolds, who recently completed an Emmett Institute Geoengineering Governance Fellowship As the climate crisis grows more urgent, unconventional technological responses are getting increased attention and controversy. We’ve written previously on Legal Planet about these technologies and their promise and risks. The most high-stakes and controversial of these …

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What If We Succeed?

If we “beat” climate change, what will we have to show for it?

Suppose we bring climate change under control and deal with its fallout. What will have we achieved? We will have prevented great harm. That, of course, is the main goal. Untamed climate change means an dangerous, ugly future for all of us on “Spaceship Earth.” Preventing that future is surely enough of a reason to …

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