Ecological crossroads.

Author:Reuther, Victor S.

Today humanity stands before ecological crossroads. The staggering breadth, depth, and rate at which our species alters land, air, and water is destabilizing the natural world. This simple truth jeopardizes not just species of plants and animals, but people living around the globe; for the fate of humankind and nature are, and have always been, inextricably bound. Indeed, history teaches us mighty societies crumble if ecosystems collapse. This sobering reality gives new meaning to the timeless words: E Pluribus Unum--out of many, one.

While fortunate that billions of people will shed the chains of poverty and climb into the global middle class by 2050, the ecological stress imposed on our planet will unfortunately intensify. To make matters worse, our changing climate is causing ecosystems to falter, temperatures to warm, sea levels to rise, glaciers to shrink, droughts to linger, and wildfires to spread. Fourteen of the past fifteen years have marked Earth's warmest since keeping record began in 1880. Each day hundreds of species go extinct. Cargo ships now navigate polar shipping passages unimaginable not long ago. These changes serve as a solemn and powerful reminder that our actions today ripple across the waters of tomorrow; a reminder that nature cannot be mastered; a reminder that we are all in this together.

The question arises whether we will stand by as the status quo's gravitational pull continues to overburden our planet; or whether we, together, will labor to safeguard our natural heritage not just for ourselves, but for our children and our grandchildren. In the long tale of human history, there has been no greater challenge, no greater struggle, and no greater obligation than to leave our planet better off than it was left to us. Posterity will rightly judge us for how we respond. So let us work together to defend the conditions for life on Earth. Ultimately, to meet this challenge is the mission of this scholarly publication.

Environmental Law was founded in 1969 as our nation's first environmental and natural resources law review. We are a student-run institution that fosters discourse, values teamwork, and honors excellence. Our nearly half-century of publishing sophisticated and forward-looking scholarship is a testament not just to the gravity and endurance of the challenges we face, but to the moral imagination and rational genius of humanity. As was true of our predecessors, the scholarship we publish today helps shape...

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