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Author Archive

The Smart Grid’s Big Data Problem

Nathan Carrier

There is a scientific consensus—with 97% of scientists in agreement—that humans are adversely contributing to climate change by continuously emitting greenhouse gases, predominately carbon dioxide (CO2).[1]  We are already beginning to feel climate change’s effects on ecosystems and human systems. [2]  Some examples are sea level rise, extreme weather, economic collapse, food shortage, and negative impacts on human health.[3]  Some of these effects are, and will continue to be, permanent.[4]  To stave off the most devastating impacts society would need to promptly reallocate resources (energy, land, infrastructure, etc.).[5]

A Good, Deceptive Neighbor

Matthew Brooks

There is a scientific consensus—with 97% of scientists in agreement—that humans are adversely contributing to climate change by continuously emitting greenhouse gases, predominately carbon dioxide (CO2).[1]  We are already beginning to feel climate change’s effects on ecosystems and human systems. [2]  Some examples are sea level rise, extreme weather, economic collapse, food shortage, and negative impacts on human health.[3]  Some of these effects are, and will continue to be, permanent.[4]  To stave off the most devastating impacts society would need to promptly reallocate resources (energy, land, infrastructure, etc.).[5]

To help avoid these effects, New York State passed the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act (CLCPA), which takes effect on January 1, 2020.[6]  The law eliminates all carbon emissions from the energy sector by 2040[7] and reaches net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.[8]  The CLCPA is one of the most ambitious climate legislation in the world.[9]  However, as of 2016, New York emits just 3% of the United States CO2 emissions.[10]  To avert some of the most harmful impacts, it will require society—not just New York— to transform its energy production, land use, and infrastructure.[11]  Despite the magnitude of this problem, technological leaps in solar, wind, and energy storage make such a solution possible.[12]

Peoples’ Tribunals: A Pathway To Community-Based Rights Of Nature

Andrew Cliburn

“[W]hy do men persist in destroying their habitat?”[1] Enlightenment theories situating the human species outside its habitat have been so successful that we persist in meaning “nature” to be something other-than-human.[2] This way of viewing our habitat as something out there, and not here, surely enables our exhaustive—indeed accelerating—destruction of Earth.[3] The rights of nature movement has emerged from an anti-Enlightenment jurisprudence as one pathway to address this dilemma.

The rights of nature movement argues that legal systems should grant natural entities “personhood” with such basic rights as legal standing and constitutional liberty protections.[4] Many people may find the notion that the law might consider a river or a forest as a legal person absurd.[5] However, the dominant culture once considered giving legal rights and granting personhood to slaves, juveniles, “incompetents,” Chinese immigrants, women, corporations, trusts, and ships “unthinkable.”[6] Before granting legal personhood, the dominant group thought of the entity as mere property.[7] Moreover, to the extent we take for granted today that a corporation enjoys the full range of legal rights, we perhaps forget that Chief Justice Marshall once dryly remarked that corporations are “immaterial.” [8] Natural entities, on the other hand, we  know from experience, have the consequence of being both material and living. However, to date, efforts to get the law to recognize natural entities as legal persons have been largely unsuccessful because courts in the United States have very restrictive standing requirements.[9]

Maritime Monopoly: Using Catch Shares and Property Rights to Combat Illegal, Unreported, and Unregulated Fishing

Paige Beyer

“I’m a pirate…it’s your job to catch me.” These infamous words spoken by Carlos Rafael, seafood kingpin caught for his fraudulent and criminal fishing operation in New Bedford, Massachusetts, encompass the mindset of cons and criminals alike.[1] Dubbed “The Codfather,” Rafael’s exploitative fishing business represents the larger problem of illegal fishing.[2]

The seafood industry is a global market involving billions of dollars and hundreds of pounds of fish.[3] While consumers may expect a quality product, issues of seafood fraud and illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing exist on a global scale.[4] IUU fishing is a means of evading conservation and management regulations and participating in fraudulent fishing practices.[5] These practices work to undermine sustainability efforts for U.S. and global fish stocks as well as impact economic markets.[6] Specifically, illegal fishing refers to practices that evade current laws and regulations at a regional, national, and international level.[7] Because of the inherent nature of IUU fishing, it is difficult to quantify the effects of such practices[8] that pose a tangible threat to food security and socio-economic development, particularly in developing countries.[9]

Ranchers or Terrorists?: A Case Against Using the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act for Public Land Management Prosecutions

Bethany Towne

Ranchers are not terrorists. This statement may seem obvious—but is it? The use of public lands in the American west is wrought with tension between generations of ranching families and the federal government.[1] Tensions are greatest in the western states where a higher percentage of the land is owned and managed by the federal government.[2] Currently, “46.4% of the 11 coterminous western states” are federally owned and managed.[3] This amount of governmental ownership is sharply contrasted in the rest of the country, where only 4.2% of the land is federally owned.[4]

The “Rough” Environmental Reputation of Golf Courses as Corporations: Could a Complexity-Based Approach to Golf Course Sustainability Make Golf Courses Both Economically and Environmentally Cohesive?

Colette Schmidt

Lush green grass surrounds a statuesque clubhouse. Early morning mowing hums barely, yet noticeably, in the distance. Impressive statues and perfectly placed trees line the landscape. If you listened carefully, you might hear slight laughter in the distance as a group tees off before driving their golf carts down the fairway.[1] This soothing scene thinly veils the golf industry’s historically destructive nature, as many golf courses cause environmental harm to their surrounding landscapes.[2] For example, Trump International Golf Links Scotland (“Trump International”) exemplifies this picturesque perfection and how it delicately conceals a long history of ongoing environmental wreckage.[3] The construction of this golf course depleted the presence of legally protected sand dunes in Scotland.[4] Scottish National Heritage— an agency that monitors environmentally sensitive sites in Scotland—reported that constructing Trump International depleted 168 acres of the Forevan Links.[5]

Big Food, Big Bills, Big Problems: A Comprehensive Look at How Big Food Takes the Axe of State Preemption to Healthy Food Policies and Who Pays the Price

Sarah Puzzo

Helsinki, 2013: The director-general of the World Health Organization, Dr. Margaret Chan, stands before a crowd of conference delegates and issues a dire warning about the food and drink industry’s piqued interest in public health policy.[1] “It is not just Big Tobacco anymore,” she states.[2] “Public health must also contend with Big Food, Big Soda, and Big Alcohol. All of these industries fear regulation, and protect themselves by using the same tactics.”[3] These tactics include influencing regulation that serves corporate interests, and experts fear that those interests will rarely align with the interests of public health.[4] “When industry is involved in policy-making,” Chan cautioned, “rest assured that the most effective control measures will be downplayed or left out entirely. This is well documented, and dangerous.”[5]

Solarize the Many, Not the Few: How Vermont Erects Barriers to Low-Income Community Solar Projects While Its Neighbors Tear them Down

David Riley

The United States’ demand for renewable energy is continuously growing.[1] In many states, small-scale solar energy is in high demand.[2] In efforts to meet ambitious renewable energy goals,[3] many states have incentivized new solar generation through regulation and policy.[4] One such policy is net metering, in which a utility company reduces the rate of a customer that generates solar energy.[5]

The Power of a Prosecutor: New Measures for Evaluating Prosecutorial Success

Carly Orozco

A prosecutor in the United States, whether operating at the federal, state, or local level, is responsible for holding those who commit criminal offenses accountable by acting as a “minister of justice.”[1] Prosecutors are the arm that enforce the laws of the legislature.[2] They have both great responsibility and great discretion to decide whether and what to prosecute.[3] With great responsibility and discretion, however, accountability must follow.

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