Climate change is perhaps the biggest challenge humanity has ever faced, and just thinking about it can make someone feel exhausted and overwhelmed.
How can the next generation of environmental professionals be prepared to deal a problem that big?
One answer could be found this fall in the Climate Corps class taught at the University of Connecticut by Sea Grant’s Juliana Barrett and Bruce Hyde, land use academy director at UConn CLEAR (Center for Land Use Education & Research). Now in its second year, the course invites students to tackle this global challenge on local scales, methodically breaking it down into more manageable parts.
The Climate Corps is in part a response to the ongoing work of Juliana Barrett and Bruce Hyde, two Extension educators who form the CLEAR/Sea Grant climate team. The Climate Adaptation Academy (CAA) created by the two has been engaging community officials, citizens and others for over four years, in a series of iterative workshops designed to gather input as much as to dispense information. The CAA’s latest focus is on the many legal issues that can arise at the local level as a result of climate change. A workshop in the fall of 2015 on this topic, Legal Issues in the Age of Climate Adaptation, was a sell-out and ended with a long Q&A session between workshop participants and a panel of six prominent land use attorneys. Faced with a long list of complex legal questions, only a few of which could be addressed at the workshop, Barrett and Hyde decided to pursue the matter by contacting the Rhode Island Sea Grant Legal Program (one of only four Sea Grant legal and policy centers in the nation). The result is a new series of fact sheets on high priority climate-related legal issues, which are being widely distributed and will be the basis for follow-up workshops. “We feel that we’re exploring some very important issues that have not been addressed to date, likely because they are relatively new and complex,” says Hyde. “I think this proves that the iterative nature of the CAA works, because these issues surfaced at the workshop and came straight from the towns.”
A number of questions were raised at Legal Issues in the Age of Climate Adaptation, a conference held by UConn CLEAR’s and Connecticut Sea Grant’s Climate Adaptation Academy in late 2015. The Marine Affairs Institute & RI Sea Grant Legal Program at Roger Williams University School of Law reviewed the questions, which came from the audience during the course of the conference. The Legal Program then developed four fact sheets addressing the following topics: Takings and Coastal Management; Property and Permitting Boundaries at the Shoreline; Government Tort Liability for Disclosure of Flood Hazard Information; Flood and Erosion Control Structures. The fact sheets can be found at: http://climate.uconn.edu/
Connecticut Sea Grant and Extension’s CLEAR hosted the second Living Shoreline Workshop in June as part of the Climate Adaptation Academy. This workshop brought over 100 participants together to hear experts from Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan and other states including Connecticut talk about different aspects of living shorelines including on the ground examples and what has and hasn’t worked.