Environmental leaders to speak about social effects of climate change
The CU Law School and Natural Resources Law Center will sponsor the first-ever National Climate Change Conference this week to examine the legal, economic and social effects of climate change on people in America and worldwide.
The conference, which will be held on March 16 and 17 in the Wolf Law Building, will feature leaders in environmental justice from across the nation, including Colorado Congressman Mark Udall and National Wildlife Federation chair Jerome Ringo. The conference is designed to focus more on the social effect of climate change than the scientific effect.
“This conference focuses on the legal, social, and economic aspects of climate change and will really look at the risks that are particular to communities of color and poor communities,” said Maxine Burkett, the conference organizer and associate law professor at CU. “Basically, we are looking at how race and poverty tie in to climate change.”
Burkett, who started teaching at CU last year, designed the conference because she felt the need to address the social aspects of climate change in the wake of global warming and its tangible consequences, shown through natural disasters like Hurricane Katrina.
“I was looking at environmental justice and its relevance to the 21st century, and it seemed an important time to really get a sense of its successes and failures, and to see how best we can tackle environmental issues today,” Burkett said.
The conference will begin with keynote addresses by Udall and Ringo at 4:30 p.m. on Friday.
“We have the odd fortune of having two excellent keynote speakers,” Burkett said.
“Those are two very big names, people that are in a position to really see what is going to be done about this,” said Elisa Dalton, director of Communication and Alumni Relations at CU.
On Saturday, the conference will feature a number of prominent environmental justice scholars in various discussion panels. The panels will address how environmental justice relates to the current political climate, as well as future issues related to climate change and possible solutions for them in terms of environmental justice, according to the conference’s Web site.
“It’s a very futuristic conference, looking into the setting up of future policies and programs from the ground up,” Dalton said. “It’s a conference about what can be done, not just an overview of what has been done.”
Burkett encouraged members of the local community to attend, as the conference will showcase many talented environmental justice scholars, including law professors from Georgetown University, Villanova University and Arizona State University, as well as prominent lawyers and environmental justice activists from across the nation.
“It’s an incredible opportunity for the Denver-Boulder community to have all these folks in one place at one time to talk about this very important issue,” Burkett said.
Burkett also touched on the moral responsibility community members have to be aware of issues like environmental justice and climate change.
“Because we in the industrialized world and the way we live sort of uses more resources, we have a moral obligation to know what the impact of our lifestyle will be on people that are less able to adapt,” Burkett said.
For more information on the conference, visit http://www.colorado.edu/law/centers/nrlc/environmental_justice.htm.
Contact staffwriter Brian Beer at email@example.com .