Solving Environmental Disputes in the Courts

Photo by Rainforest Action Network / CC BY

While it may seem that environmental issues are a relatively new thing, courts and arbitrators have been settling disputes since the late 1800’s. It’s hard to believe but even at that early date lawyers were specializing in practices to help save the environment.

It takes many years of study to become a lawyer with most students starting out as paralegals. A paralegal is most often a full-time job which entails assisting council to prepare a case with investigative work and research. The median salary for a paralegal is approximately $45,000 per year, but that depends largely on where the paralegal lives and who they are working for. Caseloads can vary greatly so while one paralegal may assist is a murder trial another may be assisting with a case involving a dog bite. It is at this stage in their career when many studying law decide which type of law they would like to specialize in, such as environmental law.

Environmental issues can be quite complex as they could involve infrastructure and land use, such and environmental crime or impact assessment, resource management and conservation such as game poaching and logging, or pollution control.

Coming to an agreement about such issues is usually done through arbitration, such as the Bering Sea Arbitration which was finally closed in 1893. This case was a fishery dispute between the United States and Great Britain in which regulations were engaged to protect seals from being hunted in the Bering Sea. Great Britain won the arbitration and an agreement was signed in August 1893.

Because of the worldwide recognition that environmental issues now enjoy there has been a surge in the litigation of climate change issues along with special environmental courts to deal with the issues. The population growths of various countries has caused a large uptick in environmental issues such as the population in China needing to wear masks due to air pollution, the lack of waste and garbage removal in India causing disease, and the lack of access to clean water in Latin America.

Creating rules, regulations, and laws to deal with environmental issues is the only way the world will begin to solve these complex issues. The ability to bring polluters to justice is the only way that the pollution issues of the world will begin to be solved. Pollution of all kinds affects everyone in the world, not just one small part of it.