On Wednesday January 16th, as part of on-going faculty development, Professor David Hodas
gave an insightful presentation on the impact of climate change on the planet’s ecosystems. Members of the faculty and administrative staff attended the address based on his recent article, Ecosystem Subsidy of Fossil Fuels
. Professor Hodas noted that Widener Law’s faculty are among the most active in the area of climate change law, citing in particular Andrew Strauss
, Roberta Mann
, John Dernbach
, and Jim May
The presentation touched on alarming global trends and statistics. Among the items of note; ten of the warmest years on record have occurred since 1997, world temperatures have risen by 1.7 degrees Celsius, the presence of greenhouses gases has increased continually since 1750, and there is a greater than 90% likelihood that global temperature increases cannot be explained by natural forces. Professor Stephen Henderson asked about the ultimate consequences, noting, “Humans have always changed the environment,” which led to a discussion of how rapidly changes were occurring, and how devastating the economic impact could be. The presentation also touched on society’s over-reliance on the fossil fuels that people view as inexhaustible resources to be exploited. Professor Hodas asked how the law can give a value to the services an ecosystem provides, noting that it is difficult to measure the economic value of air quality, flood protection, soil renewal, or other services provided by the planet’s varied ecosystems.