Abstract

http://ssrn.com/abstract=1809946
 


 



Balancing Compassion and Risk in Climate Adaptation: U.S. Water, Drought and Agricultural Law


Robert W. Adler


University of Utah - S.J. Quinney College of Law

April, 14 2011

Florida Law Review, Forthcoming

Abstract:     
This article compares risk spreading and risk reduction approaches to climate adaptation. Because of the buildup of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere from past practices, the world is "committed" to a significant amount of global average warming. This is likely to lead to significant increases in the frequency, severity and geographic extent of drought. Adaptation to these and other problems caused by climate disruption will be essential even if steps are taken now to mitigate that disruption. Water and drought policy provide an example of the significant policy tension between compassion and risk reduction in climate adaptation, and how those tensions affect broader national economic policies. Because water is essential to lives and livelihoods, the compassionate response to drought is to provide financial and other forms of relief. Guaranteed, unconditional drought relief, however, can encourage unsustainable water uses and practices that increase vulnerability to drought in the long-term. Moreover, the agricultural sector is the largest consumptive user of water in drought-prone regions, but longstanding U.S. agricultural policy encourages excess production and water use. Effective adaptation to climate disruption will have to strike a balance between providing essential short-term relief from hardship and promoting longer-term measures to reduce vulnerability through more sustainable water use and other practices. It will also require fundamental reconsideration of laws and policies that drive key economic sectors that will be affected by climate disruption. Although water, drought and agricultural law provide one good example of this tension, the same lessons are likely to apply to other sectors of the economy vulnerable to climate disruption, such as real estate development and energy production.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 46

Keywords: climate change, climate disruption, adaptation, water, water law, drought, drought law, agriculture, agricultural law

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Date posted: April 17, 2011  

Suggested Citation

Adler, Robert W., Balancing Compassion and Risk in Climate Adaptation: U.S. Water, Drought and Agricultural Law (April, 14 2011). Florida Law Review, Forthcoming. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=1809946 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1809946

Contact Information

Robert W. Adler (Contact Author)
University of Utah - S.J. Quinney College of Law ( email )
332 S. 1400 East Room 101
Salt Lake City, UT 84112-0730
United States

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