I’ve always been an animal lover. I grew-up with a myriad of pets; mostly dogs, but also rabbits, an African Grey parrot, lizards, turtles, fish, cats, and a tarantula. My parents instilled in me a great love for all wildlife and a sense that creatures deserve love and care just like people do. I remember wearing “save the rainforest” t-shirts in elementary school and thinking every stuffed animal I came across was cute, not matter the species.
It was this love of wildlife that partially lead to me the study of environmental law, as animal law and wildlife law falls under this umbrella. While earning my JD, I delved deeper into this field, leading Penn State Dickinson’s Student Animal Legal Defense Fund, bringing Animal Law back as a course offering, and writing my law journal comment (which was published this past spring) on CITES, focusing specifically on the illegal trade in white rhinoceros horns.
Now, while earning my LLM, I am continuing my academic pursuit on the intersection of environmental and animal law by conducting my thesis on the Endangered Species Act, extinction and climate change. Climate change is the second greatest cause of species extinction as of the 21st century, constituting a “threat multiplier,” meaning climate change intensifies all other threats to species and ecosystems.* Because of the environmental impacts of climate change, such as melting arctic ice, rising sea levels, changing ocean ecology (such as ocean acidification), declining forests and increasing desertification, species and their habitats are becoming increasingly threatened.
My thesis research inspired my interest in working with the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) at CoP 19 in Poland. WCS is a global conservation group, the goal of which is to save wildlife, ecosystems, and biodiversity through a landscape based approach. WCS has projects mostly in Africa and Asia that look at climate change mitigation and do a lot with REDD+ (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation plus conservation, the sustainable management of forests, and enhancement of forest carbon stocks) and carbon conservation. Their projects focus on ways they can work through existing programs, like REDD+, to help with ecosystem adaptation to climate change. The Carbon for Conservation program focuses specifically on protecting 20 million acres of tropical forests, preventing approximately 60 millions tons of CO2 from being released into the atmosphere over the next few years. WCS’s projects, like Carbon for Conservation, work with the local people and governments to reduce deforestation, while aiding in growth and development and protecting endangered species.
I am very excited to pursue my passion and love for wildlife and to be part of the discussion to help save creatures all over the world from the threats of climate change.
* Patrick Parenteau, Species and Ecosystem Impacts, in The Law of Adaptation to Climate Change: U.S. and International Aspects 307, 307-49 (Michael B. Gerrard & Katrina Fischer Kuh eds., 2012) (the greatest threat to species is land use change).