In her latest post for the Nature of Cities blog, Professor Rebecca Bratspies discusses the recent plight of a dolphin that swam into the Gowanus Canal in Brooklyn. The Canal, a Superfund site, has long been polluted and its history ” the Gowanus Canal’s history marks the trajectory of a changing relationship between people and their environment in New York.” Bratspies writes,
When the dolphin died under the glare of publicity, the polluted Gowanus Canal was suddenly a news story. Yet, the day before the dolphin arrived, the waters were just as polluted. And they remain so today, two months after the dolphin’s death. The cameras have moved on, the choppers hover over new disasters, while the Gowanus Canal remains a perilous trap—a grotesque stew posing a threat not only to marine mammals, but also to communities adjacent to the canal.
Prof. Bratspies is the director of CUNY Law’s Center for Urban Environmental Reform. Her teaching and scholarly research focus on environmental and public international law, with a particular emphasis on how legal systems govern the global commons and how law can further sustainable development. She has published widely on the topics of environmental liability, regulatory uncertainty, regulation of international fisheries, and regulation of genetically modified food crops.