Sea Level Rise? Students, faculty join conference discussion

Stetson students, faculty, staff and graduates participated in the conference “Sea Level Rise: What’s Our Next Move?” on Oct. 2-3 at St. Petersburg College.

(L-R): Stetson Law student Hayley Brew, International Wildlife Law Journal founder Dr. Wil Burns, student Alex Stewart, Professor Lance Long, Professor Paul Boudreaux, Biodiversity Fellow Erin Okuno, alumna Elise Pautler, alumnus Carson Zimmer, adjunct professor and attorney Jacki Lopez.

(L-R): Stetson Law student Hayley Brew, Dr. Wil Burns, student Alex Stewart, Professor Lance Long, Professor Paul Boudreaux, Foreman Biodiversity Fellow Erin Okuno, graduates Elise Pautler and Carson Zimmer, and adjunct professor and attorney Jacki Lopez.

Professors Paul Boudreaux and Lance Long, Journal of International Wildlife Law and Policy founder Dr. Wil Burns, and student Alex Stewart were invited to be debaters at the conference, attended by more than 200 people from throughout the region.

“There were some great practical suggestions coming from the conference,” said Professor Long. “For example, governments should start publicizing anticipated sea-level rise levels. Maps like the hurricane evacuation zones should be made readily available. Laws should be made requiring disclosure of the effect of anticipated sea-level rise in connection with real estate transactions. Our schools should start addressing sea-level rise and the potential effect it could have on our coastal lifestyle. The overall consensus was that proactive planning would be preferable to inefficient post disaster relief.”

Foreman Biodiversity Fellow Erin Okuno moderated and students Hayley Brew, Rachael Curran, Lauren Eliopoulos and Lydia Greiner acted as scribes during the second day of the conference. Okuno and Stetson’s Institute for Biodiversity Law and Policy director Royal Gardner were part of the conference working group.

“I think the greatest takeaway was that, although we don’t want to cause panic or unreasonable concern about sea-level rise, the various levels of government, business, non-governmental entities, and citizens generally need to immediately start educating the public about sea-level rise, and creating preliminary plans for preparing to meet the inevitable sea-level rise in our near future,” said Professor Long.