Climate Change, Extinction and Adaptation
About This Class
Human activities are causing a global mass extinction of plants and animals that rivals the five great extinction events over the earth's geologic history. Historically, habitat loss, overharvest, introduction of invasive species, and pollution has been the principal causes of this "Sixth Great Extinction." There is now a strong scientific consensus that the greatest threat to global biodiversity is climate change caused by anthropogenic sources of greenhouse gases, primarily carbon dioxide. Some scientists estimate that a third to a half of all species on earth may disappear by the end of this century unless atmospheric concentrations of GHG are stabilized over the next two decades. Ecosystems are shifting and changing, and some--such as the arctic, coral reefs and high elevation habitat--may disappear altogether. This course looks at the ecological, social, and ethical consequences of this biological impoverishment and considers various legal and policy options to address the phenomenon of climate change. The course will address the extent to which laws like the Endangered Species Act of 1973 can be used to address both conventional threats to species as well as the more challenging threat of climate change. International laws such as CITES and the Convention on Biodiversity will also be considered.
This course is approved for JD Credit.