27 J. Land Resources & Envtl. L. 255 (2007)
Climate Change and Human Rights

handle is hein.journals/lrel27 and id is 263 raw text is: CLIMATE CHANGE AND HUMAN RIGHTS

Amy Sinden*
The scientific consensus is now clear. Carbon dioxide and other greenhouse
gases released through the burning of fossil fuels and other human activity are
accumulating in the atmosphere and causing average global temperature to rise.'
We are already beginning to feel the effects. 2005 was the hottest year on record.
Of the 21 hottest years ever measured since they started keeping records in 1860,
20 have occurred in last 25 years. The permafrost is melting in the arctic.2
Glaciers around the world are receding.3 By 2030, there will be no more glaciers
in Glacier National Park. As the earth heats up, ecosystems across the globe are
changing. Species that have evolved over millennia to adapt to particular climatic
conditions are finding their habitats so drastically altered that their very survival is
threatened. As the arctic sea ice melts, polar bears-a species that couldn't be
farther from any center of human industrial activity-are facing extinction.4 And
that's only the tip of the ice berg. Scientists estimate that human-induced climate
change will drive a quarter of the species on earth to extinction by mid-century.5
There is literally no longer any spot on earth that remains untouched by human
action. In the words of Bill McKibben, we are witnessing the end of Nature.6
* Associate Professor, Temple University, Beasley School of Law; member scholar,
Center for Progressive Reform. B.A., Swarthmore College, 1984; J.D., University of
Pennsylvania, 1991. This essay is based on a talk delivered on Nov. 8, 2006, at the
Wallace Stegner Center for Land, Resources and the Environment of the University of
Utah S.J. Quinney College of Law. Many thanks to the Cultural Vision Fund for their
sponsorship of my visit under the Stegner Center Young Scholar program. Warm thanks
also to Bob Adler, Bob Keiter, Nancy McLaughlin, Jan Nystrom, and Amy Wildermuth
for making my time in Utah so enjoyable and stimulating as well as to Eric Freyfogle for
thoughtful comments on an earlier draft.
I Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Climate Change 2007: The Physical
Science Basis, Summary for Policymakers 2, 5 (Feb. 2007) (hereinafter IPCC 2007
Summary), available at http://www.ipcc.ch/SPM2feb07.pdf (reporting very high
confidence [90% certainty] that the globally averaged net effect of [the atmospheric
accumulation of greenhouse gases due to] human activities since 1750 has been one of
warming).
2 IPCC 2007 Summary, supra note 1, at 8.
 Id. at 7.
4 The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has issued a proposed rule listing the polar bear
as threatened throughout its range under the Endangered Species Act. See Department of
Interior, Fish and Wildlife Service, 12-Month Petition Finding and Proposed Rule to List
the Polar Bear (Ursus maritimus) as Threatened Throughout its Range, 72 Fed. Reg. 1064
(Jan. 9, 2007).
5 Chris D. Thomas, Extinction Risk from Climate Change 427 NATURE 145
(2004)(predicting on the basis of mid-range climate-warming scenarios that 15-37% of
species will be committed to extinction by 2050).
6 BILL MCKIBBEN, THE END OF NATURE (1989).

What Is HeinOnline?

With comprehensive coverage of government documents and more than 2,400 journals from inception on hundreds of subjects such as political science, criminal justice, and human rights, HeinOnline is an affordable option for colleges and universities. Documents have the authority of print combined with the accessibility of a user-friendly and powerful database.



Short-term subscription options include 24 hours, 48 hours, or 1 week to HeinOnline with pricing starting as low as $29.95

Already a HeinOnline Subscriber?