“The international community is very worried that we are on the precipice of creating rapid, non-linear climate changes,” said Visiting Scholar Donald A. Brown
as he delivered the final talk of the Environmental Law Center
’s Distinguished Speaker series for the 2013 spring semester.
Brown, who has served as a visiting scholar on the Harrisburg campus throughout the 2012-13 academic year, spoke on Thursday, April 18th in room A180. His remarks were broadcast to the Delaware campus and recorded by the Pennsylvania Cable Network.
His talk, titled “How U.S. Domestic Climate Law Needs to Respond to Emerging International Climate Law,” looked at climate change as a moral and ethical dilemma because the actions of people in certain parts of the world place people in other areas at risk. He covered the science of climate change and the emerging scientific consensus, noting, “Global emissions are in fact increasing at a level that was not predicted,” and calling the situation “an amazing and daunting problem.”
“Policy makers in general don’t like to talk about ethics and justice,” Brown said, observing that despite climate change being a global problem, governments tend to be focused on their own citizens.
Brown explored the interplay between climate change and a range of international laws, including human rights laws, international trade laws, and the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.
“The complexity of this is just overwhelming,” concluded Brown before taking questions from the audiences in both Harrisburg and Delaware.
Prior to joining the Widener faculty as scholar in residence for sustainability ethics and law through Widener’s Environmental Law Center, Brown taught interdisciplinary courses on climate change and sustainable development at Penn State University. He also directed the Pennsylvania Environmental Research Consortium, an organization of 56 Pennsylvania universities and the Pennsylvania Departments of Environmental Protection and Conservation and Natural Resources. Brown also maintains and writes his own blog, Ethics and Climate
, which focuses on the ethical implications of climate change.