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January 2016 Newsletter: We Need to Work Together to Stop the Threat of Global Warming

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    A canary in a coal mine is an advanced warning of some danger. The metaphor originates from the times when miners used to carry caged canaries while at work. If there was any methane or carbon monoxide in the mine, the canary would die before the levels of the gas reached those hazardous to humans.

    The world’s run of record-breaking hottest years is extremely unlikely to have happened without the global warming caused by human activities, according to new calculations.

    Thirteen of the 15 hottest years in the 150-year-long record occurred between 2000 and 2014. Researchers have found there is a just a 0.01 percent chance that this happened due to natural variations in the planet’s climate. “Natural climate variations just can’t explain the observed recent global heat records, but manmade global warming can,” said Professor Stefan Rahmstorf, a research team member at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research in Germany.

    The Marshall Islands: The Canary in the Coal Mine

    In the global fight over climate change, leaders of vulnerable low-lying island nations have long sought to draw attention to their plight. These low lying islands are on the front line of climate change and are the canaries in the coal mine.

    As the burning of fossil fuels increases heat-trapping gases in the atmosphere, the planet warms, and the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets melt into the oceans. Sea levels are projected to rise one to four feet across the globe by the end of the century, a series of major international scientific reports have concluded.

    Most of the 1,000 or so Marshall Islands, spread out over 29 narrow coral atolls in the South Pacific, are less than six feet above sea level— and few are more than a mile wide. For the Marshallese, the destructive power of the rising seas is already an inescapable part of daily life. But add to this problem a future sea-level rise wrought by climate change and islanders who today experience deluges of tidal flooding once every month or two could see their homes unfit for human habitation within the coming decades.

    What We Can Do to Stem the Tide of Global Warming

    Drastic, economy-changing cuts to greenhouse gas emissions will spare the planet half the trauma expected over the next century as the Earth warms. Scientists have concluded that the failure to significantly curb these planet-warming gases will truly transform our world in less than 100 years.

    A new study to be published by scientists at the National Center for Atmospheric Research finds that a 70 percent cut in emissions should stabilize temperatures at a mark not too much higher than today.

    Such a cut, most experts agree, would require vast retooling of a fossil-fuel-based economy and an unprecedented level of global cooperation.

    Joshua Cohen Slatkin Named to 2016 Super Lawyers Rising Stars List

    I had the privilege and honor of being selected to the 2016 Southern California Rising Stars list, an honor reserved for those lawyers who exhibit excellence in practice. Only 2.5% of attorneys in Southern California receive this distinction. I want to send a special thanks to those who nominated me. I don’t know who you are, but your recognition was much appreciated.

    This Week in History

    Nearly 100 years ago, on January 29, 1916, President Woodrow Wilson nominated the crusading social justice lawyer Louis D. Brandeis to the U.S. Supreme Court. In my opinion, he and Thurgood Marshall were by far the best Supreme Court justices ever. The controversy surrounding Brandeis’s nomination was so great that the Senate Judiciary Committee, for the first time in its history, held a public hearing, allowing witnesses to appear before the committee and offer testimony both for and against Brandeis’s confirmation. Much of the opposition to Brandeis also stemmed from the fact that he was the first Jewish person nominated to the Supreme Court.

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