Tag: Climate-Change Page 1 of 3

Europe’s Top Human Rights Court Finds A Positive Obligation For Governments to Make Effective Climate Policy


By: Matthew Warren

On April 9, 2024, Europe’s top human rights court ruled that Switzerland’s failure to effectively combat climate change violated its citizens’ human rights.[1] In the case Verein KlimaSeniorinnen Schweiz and Others v. Switzerland, the European Court of Human Rights’ (“ECtHR”) Grand Chamber held that the Swiss government had not met its positive obligation to cut greenhouse gas emissions pursuant to Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights (“the Convention”).[2] KilmaSeniorinnen is a group of over 2,000 Swiss women aged 64 and older that argued that they were particularly at risk of dying from heatwaves as a result of government inaction.[3] This is the first time that an international human rights court has upheld a right to climate protection.[4]

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Fictional Fungal Species Demonstrates Real Consequences of Global Warming

Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons


By: Hannah Russell

HBO’s newest hit series, The Last of Us, uses science fiction to highlight very real potential dangers of climate change. Since 1975, Earth’s average temperature has risen by 1.44 degrees Fahrenheit. Scientists predict that by 2070, temperatures will rise another 3.6 to 9 degrees.[1] While the effect of global warming on humans, plants, and animals is well documented, the impact on microorganisms is frequently overlooked in climate change research.[2] Fungal pathogens are particularly thermotolerant, meaning that as temperatures gradually increase, so will the prevalence of fungal diseases that were originally rare or unknown.[3] There are currently no vaccines able to combat fungi, and there is little economic incentive for pharmaceutical companies to invest in anti-fungal research.[4]

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The Midwest Regional Rail Initiative Aims to Bring High Speed Rail to Illinois

The Midwest Regional Rail Initiative Aims to Bring High Speed Rail to Illinois

By: Rachel Grudzinski

High speed rails may seem like a transportation option unique to Europeans, but that may not be the case for much longer. The United States has plans to implement high speed rail within the upcoming decade. High speed rails are trains that run faster than traditional trains at around 124-200mph.[1] Currently, Acela is the only high speed train in the United States which is operated by Amtrak.[2] Acela currently reaches speeds up to 150mph and travels between cities in the Northeast Corridor (Boston, New Haven, New York, Philadelphia, Wilmington, and Washington).[3]

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Should Electric Vehicles Be Illinois’ Future?

Should Electric Vehicles be Illinois’ Future?

By: Jacob Regan

While electric vehicles play a vital role in Illinois’ future, upgrading public transportation is essential to creating a greener Illinois. As the new year begins, expect to see electric vehicles become a more prominent part of everyday life. The number of people using electric vehicles is rising: in November 2017, Illinois had an electric vehicle count of 8031[1]; at the end of last year, that number was 57311.[2] On the political side, Senators Dick Durbin and Tammy Duckworth secured $8.215 million for statewide programs for electric buses, charging infrastructure, and electric paratransit vehicles.[3] This money is also to be used for electric vehicle readiness programs across the state.[4]

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Congressional Empowerment of the Colorado River Indian Tribes

Congressional Empowerment of the Colorado River Indian Tribes

By: Blythe Pabon

Historic Congressional bills expand the power of Indian Tribes over the infrastructure and water rights of the Colorado River. The Colorado River provides drinking water for over 40-million people in the United States and Mexico and supports “1/12 of the total U.S. gross domestic product,” but the River’s water levels continue to drop amid a 20-year drought.[1] Management plans of the drought, including a 2019 Contingency agreement between seven states, have proven unsuccessful in preventing further damage,[2] which prompted Congress to pass three historic bills on December 23, 2022[3] Which were signed by President Biden on January 5, 2023.[4] The bills would allow the Colorado River Indian Tribes (CRITs or Tribes) to exercise increased control over their water resources to support drought affected communities.[5]

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Offshore Wind in Lake Michigan and the Illinois Public Trust Doctrine

By: Joseph Garza

From Rust Belt to Green Belt

Illinois lawmakers’ proposal to transform Chicago into a powerhouse of offshore wind energy production faces a critical legal challenge in the public trust doctrine. This proposal marks an important step for Illinois as it transitions from fossil fuels towards a future based in renewables.[1] HB4543, dubbed the Rust Belt to Green Belt Pilot Program Act (the Act), aims to bring offshore wind to Chicago in the most equitable way possible. The Act plans to focus new jobs created by this development to the south side of the city, whose workforce had once been heavily involved in the now-abandoned steel industry.[2] This goal is especially important in a city dealing with a troubling past devoid of environmental justice for marginalized communities.[3] With the Act going through its public participation stage, it is important to address one of its largest areas of opposition: the public trust doctrine.

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Chicago is Losing its Duel with Climate Change: Water Levels Rise and Infrastructure Fails

By: Caitlin Federici

A warming climate has led to drastic swings in the water levels of Lake Michigan. Warmer temperatures lead to more evaporation and record-low water levels.[1] Colder temperatures mean reduced evaporation and greater ice cover resulting in record-high water levels.[2] While climate change causes the earth’s climate to trend warmer on average, these trends do not always manifest in a linear fashion. For instance, when warm air from the tropics moves too far north, it can disrupt the balance of the polar vortex sending blasts of arctic air much farther south than it would otherwise reach.[3] In Chicago, an unstable polar vortex equates to frigid winters and rising levels in Lake Michigan; multiple consecutive years of such instability can produce record-high water levels.[4]

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Wolves Take Centerstage from Courtroom Battles to Climate Crisis

In the early days of January 2021, the gray wolf was officially removed from the Endangered Species Act’s (ESA) List of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife.[1] By February 2, 2021, the hunter advocacy group, Hunter Nation, had filed a lawsuit in Jefferson County, Wisconsin, against the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) alleging the agency violated state law by failing to schedule a wolf hunt after the delisting of the gray wolf had taken effect.[2] A little more than a week later, the court ruled in favor of Hunter Nation and forced the DNR to hold a wolf hunt by the end of the month.[3] The outcome was devastating.

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How Grid Resiliency can Help Tackle Climate Change

Americans are experiencing the impacts of climate change on an increasingly acute level every day. The February storms across the nation that resulted in rolling blackouts across Texas and several other nearby states underscored the crisis and raised questions about whether the American electricity grid can withstand the negative effects of climate change, such as extreme temperatures, more frequent and intense storms, floods, wildfires, droughts, and more.

Since 2011, the United States has sustained $135 billion in damages from extreme weather and climate disasters, with more than seventy extreme climate events affecting the Midwest.[i] One recent study showed that investor-owned utilities face a $500 billion resilience investment gap.[ii]

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How the Northeast’s Push for Hydroelectric Power Demonstrates the Challenges and Future Considerations for Renewable Energy

The United States’ continued build out of renewable energy, is giving rise to tensions between competing environmental interests.[1] One such conflict is between constructing more renewable energy infrastructure and the ecological damage that comes with it.[2]

Renewable energy is needed more now than ever as the U.S. continues to rely heavily on fossil fuels.[3] Most domestic greenhouse gas emissions are still caused by burning coal, natural gas, and hydrocarbons.[4] Despite a seven percent drop in global carbon dioxide emissions in 2020 due primarily to the COVID-19 pandemic limiting transportation emissions, these numbers figure to rise again as pandemic restrictions are lifted and travel resumes.[5] Switching from fossil fuels to renewable energy will mitigate water and air pollution, excessive water and land use, ecological loss, public health concerns, and climate change.[6]

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