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No matter who you are, where you’re from or what you do, climate change will affect you within the next ten years, and for the rest of your life after that. Climate change is altering the world drastically and is going to have very real effects on everything. The outcome of climate change can be simplified, for all intents and purposes, into two parts: less land and fewer natural resources. This, combined with a continued increase in population, poses a problem for the future of humans.
What does law have to do with this?
Generally, law exists to create order and organization. Fewer resources and a growing population inevitably leads to disorder and competition. Thus, lawyers must step up to maintain organization and come up with creative solutions to cope with climate change.
There are two main places in which disputes could arise due to climate change that would disrupt organized civilization: human rights and the economy. With the work of lawyers, these such problems can be solved, or, in an ideal situation, prevented.
The role of the government often comes down to protection of the people it is governing. This would then include protection from the detrimental effects of climate change. Lawyers could potentially play a role in legal disputes between citizens and their government in order to provide the protection they deserve.
Human rights issues are also a topic of discussion when examining the idea that climate change is not local and contained. It affects the entire world. Climate change has no respect for country borders. Thus, international law work among different countries will become important when attempting to create policy that will protect not only the people of one country, but the whole global community.
Finance in relation to climate change is also a concern and source of legal disputes. With a limit on resources, economic competition will increase leading to more legal intervention between different companies.
The best way to combat these potential problems is the implementation of strong institutions founded on new and creative solutions. Strong institutions with organized sets of laws and rules provide problem prevention. Thus, solutions can be found to problems before they even occur in order to maintain stability.
This is where the law field comes into play again. Climate change, along with many other factors, is leading the way to a new type of career in law. Instead of solely focusing on specific cases and disputes, lawyers will have to use their legal skills and understanding of the law in order to create new ideas and solutions. The functions of a lawyer within the legal world have the opportunity to change drastically. A new class of lawyers focused on ways to implement and create laws will become necessary. These lawyers may not necessarily be sitting in law firms at desks every day. But instead, they will be using their education and background in legal systems to come up with creative ways to live and organize life in a “post-climate change” world.
These lawyers may not be practicing law in the traditional sense – but they will be equally as important as those working in law firms. The social problems they will be solving are vital to the continuation of our world. This idea is important not only in looking at how the world of working lawyers exists but also in the world of law students. Climate change will not only affect how law is practiced, but also how it is taught. Law students will need to learn about both working in law firms and working on social problems in a much more application-based and problem solving sphere.
Climate change is a very interdisciplinary issue. Experts from every field will be needed to construct new ways of living, since no matter what, humans need to change our lifestyles in order to accommodate for the changes in the natural world around us. We will need people who not only study climate change but economics, law, computer science and so many other fields, in order to find these new ways of living.
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