Climate Change, the Environment and the Law

Current Events, Exploring HeinOnline, Law, Searching, The Environment
Lauren Mattiuzzo

The topic of climate change has been more prevalent in the past few years as global temperatures have risen. This challenging and complex issue affects everyone, everywhere. This blog discusses the definition of climate change, the current U.S. government administration’s policies on and responses to this change, and how users can research this topic in HeinOnline.

Climate Change

Climate change is defined as a change in global or regional climate patterns over an extended period of time. This change can include a shift in average weather conditions or a variation of weather within long-term conditions. Causes of climate change include variations in solar radiation received by Earth, plate tectonics, volcanic eruptions, and biotic processes. Additionally, human activities such as greenhouse gas emissions have been identified as causes of climate change.

Since 1980, the average temperature in the United States has been rapidly rising, with the latest decade being the warmest in the past 1,500 years. A draft report from 13 federal agencies was released by the New York Times in 2017 stating that there is evidence that climate change is caused by some human activities. The report was finalized and is part of the National Climate Assessment, which is congressionally mandated every four years. Read the draft of the report here.

Climate change is having a major effect on some of the world’s poorest regions. For example, four severe droughts in the last two decades have left millions of people barely surviving. In northern Kenya, the region has dried faster in the 20th century than at any time over the last 2,000 years, and scientists are linking this to global warming. According to the United Nations, at least 12 million people rely on food aid in the areas of Kenya, Somalia, and Ethiopia.

During his campaign, President Donald Trump said he would remove the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), created by former President Richard Nixon. Later, once in office, he proposed to cut the EPA’s budget by 31% and immediately ordered the removal of climate change information from their website. Additionally, he decided to withdraw from the Paris Agreement in June 2017, which is an agreement within the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change that deals with greenhouse gas emissions mitigation, adaptation, and finance starting in the year 2020. This agreement states that each country will determine and plan reports of its own contribution on how to reduce global warming. Trump believes that the deal hurt American businesses, but is open to renegotiating if there is the possibility of working out a better deal.

HeinOnline’s Law Journal Library contains a wealth of scholarly articles on this topic. In a Harvard Law Review Forum article, Presidential Combat against Climate Change, Richard J. Lazarus discusses how mixed political views, whether exaggerated by industry or environmentalists, can fuel divisiveness and distrust regarding this topic. Brian Deese, in his article Paris Isn’t Burning: Why the Climate Agreement Will Survive Trumptalks about how withdrawing from the Paris agreement will not necessarily stall all progress. For example, several states including California, Nevada, New York, and Virginia are reducing their greenhouse gas emissions. Lastly, because the Paris agreement will not be effective until 2020, there is still time for renegotiation or a change in U.S. administration.

Additional HeinOnline Resources

In addition to the Law Journal Library, HeinOnline conatins other databases with information on this topic. Enter the U.S. Congressional Documents database. Using the Full Text tab, enter “global warming” into the search bar and click the search button.

From the results page, choose CRS Reports from the Document Type facet. Then, refine the search to only include documents from 2017 using the Date facet.

Next, enter the Subject Compilations of State Laws database and click Browse the Subjects.

From here, browse the letter C and click on the subject, climate change. Users are provided with bibliographic records which provide information about each title, related subjects, and links to content when available via HeinOnline or on the web.

Additional Search Strategies

Navigate to the Law Journal Library and run a proximity search. Enter “environmental law climate”~10 into the search bar click the search button.

From the results page, refine the search by choosing articles from the Section Type facet and climate change from the Topic facet.

Next, use the Advanced Search option in the Law Journal Library. Using this tool, users can search by Topics. Enter Climate change in the Topics search bar and click the Search button.

Use the Catalog tab to browse subjects in HeinOnline. This subject coding is at the title level and can be used to browse subjects and look for documents on a specific subject. Click on Subjects underneath the Catalog tab. Either browse the A-Z index for a subject or type the desired subject in the search bar. For this example, let’s run a a search for global warming. The results include 190 titles in HeinOnline that are subject coded to global warming.

To research what articles have been written regarding the Paris agreement and President Donald Trump, enter Trump AND “Paris agreement” into the Full Text tab and click the search button.

Set up email alerts using a MyHein personal research account to receive notifications when new content on this topic is added to HeinOnline.

For help searching or navigating HeinOnline, contact our dedicated support team (800) 277-6995, email us, or chat with us!

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