Blog Description

Welcome to my blog!  Though I’m not new to blogging, I am new to blogging on an issue of general interest to society. I launched my distance running blog, Boston or Bust, in 2009 and I have had great fun with it for the past decade discussing the promise and pitfalls of my training and racing in competitive distance running. Not surprisingly, most of the blog’s focus is on distance running training and racing; however, I regularly digressed into musings on larger issues in life and included some entries detailing some unforgettable adventures in Machu Picchu, Mt. Kilimanjaro, and Ethiopia. The idea of blogging about issues of interest to a larger segment of society had crossed my mind occasionally, but life somehow always managed to get in the way.

Now that I have completed my first year on the faculty at Monmouth University, the idea of starting a professional blog seems not only more attractive than ever, but also necessary. Apart from offering insights, resources, and inspiration to my readers, it’s also a valuable repository for my teaching and scholarly writing on the issues, and an outlet for my “big thoughts” and rants on these issues. In addition, it’s a helpful way of keeping my colleagues and public relations contacts at Monmouth up to date on what I’m up to in my professional travels on climate change law and justice issues.

I think about climate change a lot. I have published books and articles about it, I teach courses on it, and I deliver lectures on it throughout the U.S. and the world. The more I immerse in thinking about climate change, the more I see it as humanity’s defining challenge of this century. It will define us not only in how its devastating impacts will affect human and non-human communities, but also in how we succeed or fail in rising to the adaptation challenges that climate change will present.

The science, politics, economics, and law of climate change initially occupied most of my work on climate change – and they still do – but lately I have been thinking more broadly about climate change. Perhaps in part because last year, after 24 years of teaching full-time at six U.S. law schools, I made a big career change to accept a position as a Professor and Endowed Chair in Marine and Environmental Law and Policy at Monmouth University. This transition was significant on many levels. First, I now teach these issues to undergraduates instead of law students, which offers many significant opportunities. It’s more important than ever for accurate information about climate change to be conveyed as early as possible in the educational system so that awareness of these issues is built into how the new generation sees the world, regardless of their political views and regardless of whether they pursue careers related to environmental protection. Second, teaching climate change courses at the undergraduate level is enriching for the students and for me because we can draw on the rich interdisciplinary expertise and perspectives of a university environment rather than simply addressing the issues within the silo of legal education.

Addressing climate change effectively rests on effective communication. Bipartisan rhetoric that talks past the issues that need to be addressed in the climate regulation debate has thwarted meaningful dialogue. The first thing that’s missing is accurate information. Science is the beginning, but not the end, of this inquiry. Simply because science tells us we have a serious problem doesn’t mean that we will be able to generate the requisite political will and financial resources to address it effectively or at all. But unlike any environmental issue in the past, climate change has generated diplomatic stalemates in a way that is destructive on many levels.

This blog is designed to be a platform for open and interdisciplinary dialogue on climate change issues and a resource for further investigation into climate change law and justice issues. My interest and background focuses on the human rights and social justice dimensions of climate change impacts (often referred to as “climate justice”) at the international and domestic levels.  I’m fascinated by use of the courts to seek climate justice relief and have been following these developments closely in the U.S. and abroad for about 15 years. I’m also very interested in climate change impacts to “voiceless” communities – future generations, wildlife, and natural resources – and how the law can better respond to these challenges, which is the focus of my latest book, Climate Change and the Voiceless: Protecting Future Generations ,Wildlife, and Natural Resources (Cambridge University Press, forthcoming 2019).  I look forward to the opportunity to discuss these issues on this blog and serve as a source of information, debate, and inspiration to improve our response to this vexing existential threat.