Vibrant Environment

All | Biodiversity | Climate Change and Sustainability | Environmental Justice | Governance and Rule of Law | Land Use and Natural Resources | Oceans and Coasts | Pollution Control

All blog posts are the opinion of its author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of ELI, the organization, or its members.

For inquiries concerning ELI’s Vibrant Environment blog, please contact the Blog Editor at

Miami coastline

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC’s) latest reports do not bode well. The 2021 Physical Science Report, for example, emphasizes as its primary conclusion that “[i]t is unequivocal that human influence has warmed the atmosphere, ocean, and land.” The global average surface temperature increase since 1850 is about 1.07 degrees Celsius (1.93 degrees Fahrenheit), driven by anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions.


In January, ELI held the first CLE webinar in the new Pro Bono Clearinghouse series, “Community Lawyering for Environmental Justice Part 1: Key Concepts, Skills, and Practice-Oriented Specifics.” The public webinar brought together an engaging panel of justice-oriented attorneys to meaningfully discuss community lawyering.

Tree growth rings

When was environmental law first recognized as a field worthy of endeavor? Legal academies began teaching courses in the new laws as they were propounded a half century ago, but the field existed earlier. It could be found, if only in fragments, in some law schools and engineering schools and colleges of agriculture, mining, and forestry. And there were repositories of environmental professionals in the government’s land bureaus and extension services.

Mountains landscape

On January 1, I was welcomed as ELI’s new president. I’m extraordinarily excited and deeply honored to lead this remarkable organization. It is special for me because I began my legal career at the Institute many years ago, an experience that shaped some of my core values around integrity and impact. I continue to be inspired by ELI’s mission and I’m delighted to be back, working with this wonderful group of people and our partners.

artificial intelligence

Cities, the U.S. military, and private businesses are increasingly turning to artificial intelligence and analytical tools as they strive for greater resiliency amid growing incidents of climate-related flooding, heat waves, and other extreme events. In January, participants in the Environmental Law Institute’s 9th GreenTech webinar—“Technology and Climate Resiliency”—discussed these developments and the incentives for adoption of cutting-edge tools and various impediments.

Bighead carp collected on the Illinois River. Source: US Geological Survey, public domain image.

For officials in the Midwest and Southeast, the day is long past to seize the carp.


This column is indeed my “closing statement.” This past January, I officially stepped down from my role as president to take up residence with my wife in Rome. I will continue working with the Institute from Europe on a part-time basis, primarily supporting ELI’s international portfolio. The balance of my time will be devoted to working with the consultancy Sustainability Frameworks.

Hubble telescope orbiting Earth

The environment got a big boost last September when a rocket blasting off from Vandenberg Air Force Base orbited Landsat 9. The new satellite is a highly instrumented space probe designed to scrutinize the Earth from aloft with visual images and an array of other sensors. Test photos taken shortly after launch showed outstanding resolution of the biosphere unrolling below.

Plastic bottles

Global plastics production doubled over the last two decades, and is predicted to double again in the next two decades. Increased production has led to increased waste. Ocean plastics pollution is rising, and the ocean will likely contain more plastics mass than fish by 2050.

Skyscrapers surrounded by Earth and leaves

Part III of this four-part blog series discussed common shortcomings to avoid in developing climate plans and examined two instances of legal challenges to county plans in California.