Legal Adaptation to Global Warming
About this Course
Most leading scientists and policy makers agree that, even if the international community acts promptly to limit future greenhouse gas emissions, levels of carbon and other greenhouse gases in the atmosphere will continue to rise. Future accumulations of greenhouse gases are generally predicted to produce significant environmental effects, including higher sea levels, changes in temperature and precipitation patterns, reductions in snowfall and the extent of glaciers, and increasingly intense storms. This seminar will examine the legal challenges raised by the unavoidable need for our society to adapt (at least some, perhaps a lot) to the impacts of global warming. Some of the topics we will cover are alternative tools for dealing with eroding coastal shores and higher flooding risks, possible strategies for relocating urban populations to higher ground, modifications to the Endangered Species Act and other wildlife laws to deal with changes in species' ranges, appropriate federal and state property insurance policies in the era of global warming, and techniques for reallocating water supplies in periods of shortage. More generally, we will explore global warming adaptation as an example of how the law and legal institutions evolve in response to major social changes.