The race is on to spare humanity from the worst ravages of climate change. Experts warn that only 11 years remain before irreversible environmental damage occurs. If people refuse to take action to protect humanity, the law has to step in and enforce the correct behavior.
Climate change has already taken an irrevocable toll on wellness and continues to claim lives every year. Is environmental law essential to protecting human health? The answer is yes — here’s why.
The environmental law field is growing, with an 11% upsurge in new job opportunities projected between 2020 and 2030. It entails diverse professions, from working with the U.S. Forestry Service to serving on a U.N. committee addressing climate change. However, is the current devotion to the field sufficient to meet humanitarian demands?
For some, help already comes too late. The World Health Organization estimates that 7 million people die annually from air pollution alone. Unfortunately, although individuals in the poorest nations generally produce the least pollution, they suffer the most from its ravages. However, 99% of the human population regularly breathes air that falls short of WHO quality standards.
Pollution causes respiratory diseases like lung cancer. Furthermore, it contributes to ozone depletion and global warming. Extreme temperatures fuel stronger weather patterns, increasing the number of people displaced by natural disasters each year, and so do airborne nanoparticles. Recent research shows that even plumes less than 50 nanometers across can intensify storms, especially over relatively pristine areas like the ocean. They can cause severe devastation when they make landfall as hurricanes.
Heatwaves likewise threaten human life — and livelihoods. In general, those that previously had a one in 10 chance of occurring now happen three times more often — and they increase temperatures by as much as a full degree Celsius. The recent one that struck India and Pakistan was made 30 times more likely by climate change. Crops can’t thrive in these extreme conditions, threatening the human food supply and farmers’ incomes.
Finally, the stress from unmitigated climate change causes untold anxiety in millions of people who do what they can but feel powerless before the actions of international corporations. More than 80% of worldwide respondents to a recent survey harbored concerns about the environmental crisis, with over 50% reporting feeling extreme worry. Many young people refuse to have children because they fear what kind of world they will face.
Such concerns can fuel deaths of despair and extreme actions. One climate activist recently perished after setting himself on fire outside the U.S. Supreme Court. The body recently ruled to strip the Environmental Protection Agency of many of its powers despite the looming crisis and Wynn Bruce’s sacrifice.
The nation and world need more legal professionals involved in the environmental law field. These individuals can play crucial roles in enforcing existing regulations and safeguarding the environment.
For example, one such case recently involved a family who owned a Terminix franchise. They unsafely disposed of pesticides on their property, causing these chemicals to leak into neighboring land. A federal judge ordered the responsible parties to pay more than $379,000 in remediation work to decontaminate the area.
West Virginia landowners are suing two major gas companies for overburdening their properties with wells that release methane. Methane is a dangerous greenhouse gas that’s 25% more efficient at trapping heat in the atmosphere than carbon dioxide. This action may seem local, but it can have a global impact on reducing emissions and protecting human health.
People who are thinking about a career in the legal profession should consider environmental law. The demand is high, and you could play an integral role in safeguarding human wellness.
Environmental law is essential to protecting human health. A dying planet can’t support any life, including yours.
See more posts from Jane Marsh at environment.co
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