Education at a Cost

Student loan debt plagues the nation. Over 40 million people in the United States have student loans and approximately 7 million borrowers are in default. Higher education leads to higher paying and more satisfying work for life, but a crushing debt load can consume the pay and kill the satisfaction.

In this article, the New York Times highlights the problems with student loan counseling offered to students. Research has found the information currently provided to students to be confusing and irrelevant. It also assumes a knowledge base that simply isn’t there.

Students need to be educated on the ins and outs of student loans before being asked to take on tens of thousands of dollars in debt. Much time is spent telling students that higher education is crucial to their success, but too often the crushing debt incurred to achieve that education drastically alters the future for students after graduation.

The system needs an overhaul. There are basic changes that can be made in this arena such as more financial counseling while student are in school, face-to-face contact with experts, and different ways of communicating needed information such as videos. Schools and lenders must do a better job educating students about the debt they are taking on and what it means for their future. Because their future is our future.

 

– Rachel Gallegos

 

Lawyers’ Climate Change Campaign Reaches West Coast for Earth Day

 

In early 2014, a small group of lawyers in Philadelphia began a campaign to enlist the support of the legal community for action on climate change. That campaign took root with the leadership of the Philadelphia Bar Association under the name A Call to the Bar: Lawyers for Common Sense on Climate Change.

The goal? To protect our children and future generations from the catastrophic effects of climate change by reducing greenhouse gas emissions through carbon pricing, such as carbon tax, cap-and-trade, or fee and dividend. Virtually all knowledgeable people agree that carbon pricing is critical. Citizens must demand it, government must deliver it. Lawyers can lead the way.

Yesterday, April 21, 2015, the campaign reached the West Coast, with the publication by the Oregon State Bar of my article “Just a Theory on People and Climate Change.”

I am immensely proud to have the support of lawyers in Oregon.

In coming months, you can expect to hear more about our work with lawyers around the country, as we turn common sense into public policy.

Lawyers, law students, and non-lawyers can support our efforts by going to our web site, www.calltothebar.org and signing our petition. We cannot do it without you. Sign the petition now.

-Steve Harvey

Leading Jurists, Scholars, and Advocates Say Unrelenting CO2 Emissions Violate International Law and Must Be Reduced to Prevent Catastrophe

A group of prominent jurists, scholars, and advocates on March 1, 2015, adopted the Oslo Principles on Global Climate Change Obligations. The Principles are based on the undeniable fact that “[t]he threats [to the Earth from climate change] are grave and imminent,” and the inescapable conclusion that “[a]voiding severe global catastrophe is a moral and legal imperative.” The Principles “set out the legal obligations of States and enterprises to take the urgent measures necessary to avert climate change and its catastrophic effects.” Essentially, they call for reduced CO2 emissions by States and enterprises.

Principle 1, called the “Precautionary Principle,” states that: “1) GHG emissions be reduced to the extent and at a pace necessary to protect against the threats of climate change that can still be avoided; and 2) the level of reductions of GHG emissions required to achieve this, should be based on any credible and realistic worst-case scenario accepted by a substantial number of eminent climate change experts.”

The Oslo Principles, while not binding, serve as an important reminder that impeding disaster from climate change caused by CO2 emissions is not just an environmental and moral problem, it is a legal problem.

Anyone concerned about what government and the law should do about climate change should review the Principles, which can be found here. The commentary to the Principles can be found here

 

– Stephen G. Harvey