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Veteran EPA Prosecutor Warns Students of Climate Change

Carl Howard, Esq.
Photo by: Paula Lazrus, Ph.D.
Wednesday, October 18, 2017

“We are messing with the foundations of life on earth for all living things,” warned Carl Howard, Esq., who has been the Assistant Regional Counsel for the Region 2 Office of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in New York City for the past 30 years. Howard delivered the lecture, “EPA, Climate Change, and You” to a standing-room-only crowd in D’Angelo, Room 416C on Monday, October 16, 2017 during Common Hour (1:50 – 3:15 p.m.).

Associate Professor Paula Kay Lazrus, Ph.D., introduced Howard as a childhood friend, as well as an avid hiker and bird watcher. She and Professor Dianella Howarth, Ph.D., organized the event to initiate a biannual lecture series. Dr. Howarth directs the Environmental Studies program at St. John’s.

Howard directed students to information resources about climate change, including his blog and reports from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). “This is not for scientists,” he said. “It’s written by scientists for laypeople.” Howard urged students in attendance to further their research into climate change and form part of an “educated populace.” “I need you all to be deputized,” he said.

The lecture maintained a balance between warnings about climate change’s potential to devastate the planet, and possibilities for “adaptation and mitigation” techniques that could reduce harm. “There’s a lot we can do,” said Howard, “but the danger is quite high. At some point, probably in your lifetime, there will be a realization that New York City cannot be saved.”

But Howard also reassured students that they are “empowered more than you realize. As a voting populace and consumer society, we decide the direction things go.” Spending power and social media, he argued, are powerful tools in the fight against planet destruction. He recommended that students find alternative transportation methods that do not rely on fossil fuels and “eat lower on the food chain” because methane gas from cows contributes significantly to greenhouse gas emissions.

“The reason we can predict the future is because it’s here,” said Howard of the recent natural disasters in Texas, Puerto Rico, and California. He repeated the call for adaptation and mitigation measures that could prevent more widespread devastation.

“Carl Howard made an elegant case for how people live as part of life on Earth, and not separate from it,” said Dr. Howarth. “He talked through both the enormity of the issue of climate change, as well as the things that each of us can do to improve the situation. We hope students will join us for future Environmental Studies seminars like this one!”

Howard is Co-Chair of the New York State Bar Association Global Climate Change Committee in the Environmental Law Section, and past Chair of that section. His J.D. is from Hofstra University.