Tuesday, May 3, 2011
Over the next few weeks, I’d like to explore a set of issues that are critical to environmental protection, but that environmental legal scholars tend to have little purchase on. In my experience, these issues often get raised in class discussion but are essentially dead ends for discussion for the very reason that we, as law professors and law students, aren’t equipped to say much about them. Even though they are absolutely key to the success of our environmental laws, they seem to be outside our realm.
The first issue of this sort I’d like to highlight is education. Have you had that conversation with students about why popular polls show that many US citizens don’t believe in climate change? I have, and one of the discussion points often raised is that US citizens don’t understand science because our education system is failing. We are all aware that studies have shown that the US education system has fallen behind many other countries (most notably, China), particularly in science. So we all nod our heads and say yes, that is part of the problem. But there’s not a lot more to say.
I don’t have a solution for dealing with this too-big-to-deal-with issue. I feel it lurking there, and as a scholar of environmental law, I wish I could address it in some way because it really does matter. But then I’d seemingly be outside my field, and while I consider myself quite interdisciplinary as legal scholars go (engineering undergrad and social science doctorate), I do feel some limits.
Stay tuned this month for more too-big-to-deal-with issues (e.g. consumption, capitalism, inequity, and more)!