Global climate change is the major environmental threat of our era. Its effects are felt by all species, but especially on those who are poor, those whose livelihoods depend on nature (fishing, marine mammals) and those who live in regions under environmental stress (parts of Africa, for example). The entire ecological basis of life is affected by global warming and extinctions will accelerate.
The solutions to global warming require changes in our carbon based economy. There are exciting innovations occurring worldwide that point to the world’s ability to make these changes, but institutional factors (legal, political, economic) are key to progress.
This course will be a seminar in which we work together to understand the science behind climate change and how it will affect different regions of the world, the economics of change, and, most importantly, the role of law in bringing about change. The U.S. Congress is beginning to address global warming and our Senators are the most important players in the Senate. New Mexico and other states are also taking measures, prodded by the failure to act at a national level. After some thirty years of development of environmental law, this enormously complex problem calls on us to craft a legal approach that is effective and can command support from diverse interests. We will learn about cutting edge approaches to environmental regulation and international law.
Students will meet weekly for lectures and discussions. The practicum will put the student in the role of a participant in the debate, preparing a useful memorandum for a stakeholder. For example, a student might address a question for a staffer in the Congress, for a NGO, or prepare an environmental justice analysis for a local group.
Professor Fort has worked in environmental law for about 25 years with state government, environmental justice organizations (SWRIC, CBE-CA), national environmental groups, as well as in more traditional academic research and writing projects.