Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Introducing Myself: What Brings Another New Extern to GEI?

By Tyler Johnson, GEI Policy Extern

My name is Tyler Johnson and I am a new Policy Extern at GEI. My goal is to introduce myself and talk about what I’ve done in law school so far.

My attention to environmental issues probably began approximately eight years ago when an economics professor of mine at Saint Cloud State University in Minnesota recommended I read a book called The Weather Makers: How Man is Changing the Climate and What it Means for Life on Earth. Much to my surprise (I admittedly was quite ignorant as to the severity of the situation at the time), Tim Flannery, the scientist and author of the book, warned of a global climatic “tipping point,” reachable in the coming decades that will lead to a significant number of species going extinct. The book was alarming to say the least. For a more recent assessment, I encourage readers to check out The Sixth Extinction by Elizabeth Kolbert.

I finally graduated in 2008 with a degree in International Studies. Due to uncertainty amidst the global financial crisis and not quite having everything figured out, I decided to return to South Korea, where I had studied abroad two years prior, to teach English as a second language. My concern for human-impacted climate change surely increased as I lived there. Korea’s landscape is 70% mountainous and very densely populated in the valleys. Even though just a century ago Amur tigers (a national icon) and bears roamed the countryside, wildlife was noticeable absent (indeed mostly now extinct). While living in Korea, I started a blog to discuss environmental issues and minimalist living, but I still felt pretty worthless regarding the environmental problems I wanted addressed. I always knew I’d return to the States for higher education eventually, and finally settled on law as a practical way to get involved in the solution process.

I’ve been very happy with my decision to both study the law and come to Lewis & Clark Law School in Portland, Oregon. Last summer, I got to work globally again as an intern at the Enviro Legal Defense Firm in Delhi, India. My major task at the firm was analyzing an energy conservation statute. My enjoyment with that statute (among other energy related things) led me to register for an Energy Law class in the fall, which eventually led me to GEI. I believe in local-based advocacy and problem solving and GEI is involved in many Oregon-specific problems. Thus, I believe that GEI is part of the solution, and I’m happy to take part!

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