Public Interest Environmental Law Conference
Kasey Hovik, Executive Director
Over the last 35 years, Land and Water hosts the Public Interest Environmental Law Conference (PIELC) at the University of Oregon. It is the world’s largest public interest environmental law conference and usually draws several members from Umpqua Watersheds as well as members from our sister organizations. Unfortunately, snow and ice kept many people away. I was able to attend on Saturday and enjoyed visiting with people at the various tables and gleaned new insights from the presentations I attended. The title for PIELC this year was “Common Ground” and focused on ways to “empower our common interests to constructively and effectively work” to combat Climate Change.
In October of last year the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) issued a warning from 90 climate scientists from 40 countries that if humans don’t take immediate action to limit global warming to 1. 5 degrees Celsius by 2040, we will not be able to turn back from a very bleak future. While everyone will be impacted by failure to act immediately, decisively and collectively to put the brakes on climate change, poor people and countries will be impacted the most. One of the major impacts of climate change will be felt by the availability of clean water because of shrinking glaciers and snowpack.
Throughout the day, I kept thinking about the impact climate change will have on the ability of children to enjoy the quality of life that we have today. Over the last eight years I have been involved with Umpqua Watersheds I am very proud of the time, effort and resources we have put into providing opportunities for young people to learn about and appreciate the environment and the consequences of not working collaboratively to protect it. I am proud of Umpqua Watersheds and its work to restore and protect our precious watersheds.
I think it is very important that we should remember the kids as we ponder what to do and how we should demand policy actions at local, state, federal and international levels. Sadly, a recent Gallup poll found that only 46% of those surveyed felt that working to curb greenhouse gasses to stop Climate Change should be a top priority. Umpqua Watersheds believes that addressing Climate Change should be one of the top priorities as reflected in our choice for our keynote speaker and topic at this year’s membership banquet. We are very proud of Jacob Lebel and Alex Loznak are represented as two of the 21 plaintiffs in Juliana v. United States.