Why Every Lawyer Should Care About Climate Change

On November 20, 2015, the House of Delegates of the Pennsylvania Bar Association will consider a resolution calling for government to acknowledge and act on the urgent problem of climate change caused by human activity. As a supporter of the resolution, I have been asked “why is this an issue for lawyers and the bar association?”

In my view it comes down to a question of justice, as the undeniable effects of climate change will include disruption of the life, liberty, and property of people in our country and throughout the world. Solutions are available. They need to be debated, adopted, and expressed in law. But social, political, and economic forces prevent many elected officials from even acknowledging the problem, much less pursuing solutions.

As a community of lawyers, one of our primary concerns should be furtherance of justice. Faced with one of the greatest challenges our society has ever faced, it is right that lawyers should speak out in favor of solutions through law. This falls squarely within PBA’s mission: the advancement of jurisprudence, promotion of justice, protection of the disadvantaged, and advancement of proper legislation.

In June of 1963, President John F. Kennedy convened 244 leading lawyers from throughout the United States, including leaders from the state bars and the American Bar Association, to a meeting at the White House where he asked for their support on civil rights through law.

Days before that meeting, the President gave one of the most important speeches of his life, calling on “every American” to “stop and examine [their] conscience” on the subject of racial justice.

The need for action on civil rights in the summer of 1963 was undeniable. As President Kennedy recognized, “events in Birmingham and elsewhere have so increased the cries for equality that no city or state or legislative body can prudently choose to ignore them.”

The need for action on climate change is now undeniable. Just as the support of the legal community was needed in 1963 on civil rights, so too is it now needed on climate change.


Steve Harvey

President, A Call to the Bar: Lawyers for Common Sense for Climate Change



This is an excerpt of an article that was originally published in the October 2015 issue of the Pennsylvania Bar Association Environmental & Energy Law Section Newsletter. Click here to read the full newsletter, including the full resolution and full article (located on page 6)

Hats Off to These House Republicans for Critical Support on Climate Change Action

These courageous and principled Republican members of the U.S. House of Representatives recently signed onto a resolution (the “Gibson Resolution”) that Congress should address the problem of climate change.

Rep. Chris Gibson (Hudson Valley and the Catskills regions)

Rep. Ryan Costello (suburban Philadelphia)

Rep. Carlos Curbello (south of Miami)

Rep. Bob Dold (suburban Chicago)

Rep. Mike Fitzpatrick (suburban Philadelphia)

Rep. Richard Hanna (Central New York)

Rep. Patrick Meehan (suburban Philadelphia)

Rep. David Reichert (rural Washington)

Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (Miami-Dade County)

Rep. Elise Stefanik (Adirondack Mountains and the Thousand Islands region)

Rep. Frank LoBiondo (South Jersey)

The Gibson Resolution states as follows:

Resolved, That the House of Representatives commits to working constructively, using our tradition of American ingenuity, innovation, and exceptionalism, to create and support economically viable, and broadly supported private and public solutions to study and address the causes and effects of measured changes to our global and regional climates, including mitigation efforts and efforts to balance human activities that have been found to have an impact.

The full text of the Gibson Resolution can be found here:

At a time when partisan politics seems to prevent progress on any of a number of important problems, it is refreshing to see that some of our elected officials can rise above the fray and put their constituents and their country first.

Please show your support and appreciation by calling any one or all of their offices to thank them for taking a stand on the very real and urgent problem of climate change. If you know one of their constituents, ask that person to call and thank them too.

It’s easy to call any one or all of them by using this link.

They all deserve our thanks! We support a non-partisan solution to climate change.

Climate Change and National Security Speech At Temple Law School on October 14

Rear Admiral David W. Titley, United States Navy (Retired) will be the featured speaker at a program entitled “Climate Change and National Security: People, Not Polar Bears” on October 14, 2015, beginning at noon, at Temple University Beasley School of Law in Philadelphia, PA.

The program is free and open to the public, but registration is strongly suggested by sending an email to info@calltothebar.org or calling 215-392-6781.

No one need starve; complimentary lunch will be provided.


Dr. Titley is a nationally known expert in the field of climate, the Arctic, and National Security.  He served as a naval officer for 32 years and rose to the rank of Rear Admiral. Dr. Titley’s career included duties as Oceanographer and Navigator of the Navy. While serving in the Pentagon, Dr. Titley initiated and led the US Navy’s Task Force on Climate Change. After retiring from the Navy, Dr. Titley served as the Chief Operating Officer at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Dr. Titley currently serves as Professor of Practice in the Department of Meteorology at the Pennsylvania State University. He is also the founding Director of Penn State’s Center for Solutions to Weather and Climate Risk.

In addition to Dr. Titley, Prof. Amy Sinden of Temple University Beasley School of Law will offer remarks about the Clean Power Plan and the 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference to be held in Paris, France, from November 30 to December 11, 2015.

The program is sponsored by Temple University Beasley School of Law, with the following co-sponsors:

  • The Philadelphia Bar Association
  • Pennsylvania Businesses for a Health Environment
  • The Pennsylvania Environment Council
  • The Temple Environmental Law Center
  • Penn Future
  • Penn Environment
  • The Clean Air Council
  • A Call to the Bar: Lawyers for Common Sense on Climate Change

TItley Poster

Information about direction and parking can be found here: http://www.law.temple.edu/resources/directions/