The New Galapagos Islands Reserve: A Shift in Paradigm
Galapagos Islands
Monday, November 8, 2021

Ecuador is undoubtedly one of the most megadiverse countries in the world. It currently has 18,439,141.75 hectares of protected areas, which means that 13.7% of its territory is under special protection. Without underestimating the rest of the ecosystems and habitats that make up this small piece of land located in the middle of the world, the Galapagos Islands usually take the limelight. The Galapagos Islands have been declared a natural world heritage and are the reference by which many foreigners identify the country.

As AI Proliferates, Environmental Protection Hopes and Fears Rise
Solar Panels
Wednesday, October 20, 2021

In recent years, Artificial Intelligence (AI) applications have rapidly become more sophisticated and widespread, “even as legal and regulatory frameworks struggle to keep up.” Moreover, AI’s often-overlooked environmental implications are simultaneously “sweeping and quite complicated,” and for all of its promise to help improve the environment, AI could in fact cause environmental harm. With those framing remarks, Andrew Tutt, a Senior Associate with the law firm Arnold & Porter, opened a February 18 webinar on “Environmental Applications & Implications of Artificial Intelligence,” the third in ELI’s GreenTech series running through 2021.

Protecting Future Generations: A Global Survey of Legal Academics and Implications for Climate Change Law
Mountain Landscape
Monday, October 11, 2021

A recent study by Eric Martinez and Christoph Winter surveyed over 500 legal academics regarding how and to what degree the law can protect future generations. Here, I discuss some of the authors’ findings and the implications for using law to take action against climate change.

The survey asked legal academics for their views on legal protection of future generations and other groups, which groups could be granted legal standing, the ability of law to influence the long-term future, and specific areas of law and sources of risk. Climate change and environmental law were featured in several questions, as both are commonly associated with future generations and the long-term future. This can be seen, for example, in the rise of environmental constitutionalism, scholarship on representing future people in climate governance and intergenerational justice, as well as a rapid increase in climate litigation, with global cases nearly doubling from 2017 to 2020.

Are We Ready for the Emerging Circular Economy? Ready or Not...
Plant
Wednesday, October 6, 2021

“The United States has a very effective liability management policy and legal framework, but that same framework has some unintended consequences for the circular economy,” including risk aversion that can create barriers to circular economy businesses, said John Lovenburg, Vice President of Environment at BNSF Railway, in his opening remarks as moderator of ELI’s fourth GreenTech webinar March 24, 2021, on “The Emerging Circular Economy.”

A Progress Report From the War on Science — and the Environment
Wildfire
Wednesday, September 29, 2021

One voter in seven believes that Hillary Clinton is running a cabal of satan-worshipping cannibalistic pedophiles. A member of Congress charges that last year’s wildfires in the western states were caused by Jewish space lasers. A U.S. senator insists that China aims to breed a race of super soldiers by harvesting visiting athletes’ DNA when it hosts the winter Olympics in 2022. The Ohio legislature recently heard testimony alleging that the Covid vaccines are magnetizing people. According to a 2012 survey, one in four members of the U.S. public does not know the Earth orbits the Sun. A poll by the Associated Press in 2014 found that four in ten Americans dispute evolution and half do not believe the Big Bang theory.

Climate Action Strategy Workshops and the Need for More Language Accessibility
Spanish Spoken Here Sign
Monday, September 27, 2021

This summer, the Miami-Dade County’s Office of Resilience conducted a series of workshops inviting the community’s input into the drafting of the county’s climate action strategy plan. These workshops were held to offer community members the opportunity to comment on local policy measures as well as shape the direction of current and future policymaking by offering suggestions and ideas. Rather than simply checking off boxes for expectations of citizen engagement by local government, the stated goal of these workshops is to produce an accessible avenue for community members from all identities, especially those that have historically faced discrimination, to take the lead on local climate adaptation and mitigation efforts. In accomplishing this goal, language accessibility is a key consideration to ensure effective citizen engagement and maximized impact.

Lessons From the Pandemic for the Future of Work
Laptop on Desk
Wednesday, September 22, 2021

During the spring of 2020, while we were in the early grip of the pandemic, I pointed in an earlier blog to a possible silver lining. Perhaps what appeared then to be broad societal acceptance of the science around the coronavirus might leave us better able to also rally around the science on our other mega challenge — climate change.

Well, the broad consensus on pandemic science hasn’t exactly held. The prior administration downplayed the pandemic — and the science behind it — in an effort to rally the economy and stir up support for a reelection bid. Then, with the turnover at the White House and in the Senate, the politicization of pandemic science intensified, with some questioning whether a scourge that has disrupted lives everywhere and killed over four million people is actually an elaborate hoax.

Charting a Course to Net Zero: Louisiana Seeks Comment on Draft Climate Documents
Wind Turbines
Wednesday, September 15, 2021

In Louisiana and elsewhere around the United States, climate change is a common topic of conversation these days. With record heat, drought, wildfires, hurricanes, and flooding, this summer has brought home the reality of climate impacts, and revealed the country’s general lack of preparedness for this new normal. As evidenced by Hurricane Ida, Louisianans are increasingly facing serious consequences resulting from more extreme weather events and sea-level rise. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra summed things up in his recent remarks establishing a new Office of Climate Change and Health Equity, “Louisiana is being pummeled.”

New Model Policy Bolsters Compost Use and Infrastructure
Compost
Wednesday, September 1, 2021

A new model compost procurement policy developed by the Environmental Law Institute and the Natural Resources Defense Council could help municipalities around the country in their efforts to divert food scraps and other organic materials from their landfills and incinerators and, in so doing, realize myriad economic and environmental benefits.

Can We Build an Internet of Green Things?
Electric Board
Monday, August 30, 2021

Technology has never been more up-close and personal. Internet-connected devices set our home’s temperature, control our lights, and drive our cars. Not just our homes, but our industries, businesses, and cities are striving to be “smart.” The secret to all these smart devices and systems is a combination of digital sensors and Internet connectivity. Together, they form a globally interconnected system of electronics—what has been dubbed the “Internet of Things,” or IoT. The ability for IoT to revolutionize our economy and daily life has been widely theorized, and some optimists have envisioned IoT as the pathway to a technological utopia. However, the environmental effects of the IoT revolution are often overlooked. Twenty-five billion IoT devices are expected to be deployed worldwide by the end of this year, a number expected to grow at a rate of 19% annually. IoT systems are being implemented to manage industries like manufacturing and transportation and thus will be responsible for controlling a vast amount of energy consumption and pollution. Each device also places a burden on the environment with fabrication and eventual disposal. Moreover, IoT devices may change human behavior and energy demand with ambiguous end effects. As IoT gains widespread adoption, both human and technological factors need to be addressed when considering the overall environmental impact of IoT. The complex ways IoT will interact with us and our environment are difficult to measure and predict, leading to ambivalence about how IoT will grow and mature.