Rob Verchick discusses a displaced octopus and climate resilience

Rob Verchick behind the podium in the Moot Courtroom, giving a lecture to event attendees

On Feb. 15, the Coleman P. Burke Center for Environmental Law hosted renowned climate law scholar Rob Verchick for a talk on his new book, The Octopus in the Parking Garage: A Call for Climate Resilience.

Verchick is the Gauthier-St. Martin Eminent Scholar Chair in Environmental Law and faculty director of the Center for Environmental Law at Loyola University New Orleans. He has played a notable role in advocating for and implementing climate-resiliency policies in and out of government. In 2009 and 2010, Verchick served as deputy associate administrator for policy at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Verchick is also a senior fellow in Disaster Resilience Leadership at Tulane University, and serves as board president of the Center for Progressive Reform.

In his talk, Verchick shared with listeners a new symbol of our dramatically changing climate: an octopus stranded in a Miami, Florida parking garage after days of severe flooding. He discussed the impact of increasing climate-related disasters that Americans have been experiencing from coast-to-coast. In light of the growing number of floods, wildfires and extreme heat incidents, Verchick emphasized the importance of a twofold approach to climate change that combines mitigation with resilience.. Efforts to reduce carbon pollution may limit the most damaging climate-related disasters, but some risks are now unavoidable. Verchick urged that we must effectively manage and mitigate risks, particularly in underserved communities which are profoundly impacted when disasters strike. He advocated for increasing climate resiliency in our homes, cities and legal system by sharing vivid examples. Whether deep in Louisiana’s bayous, hiking in the Mojave Desert or diving into coral reefs off the coast of Key Largo, Verchick’s talk showcased the importance of creative problem-solving.

In addition to his lecture, Verchick joined students from Law for the Environment, Animals and Food (LEAF) for lunch during his visit to CWRU. There, Verchick shared about trends in environmental law, his career path and other related topics.

Video of the lecture can be seen here.