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Environmental Law and the Loss of Paradise

32 Pages Posted: 5 Apr 2011 Last revised: 11 Feb 2012

Eric Dannenmaier

Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law

Date Written: April 4, 2011


This book review explores the central idea “now traveling the planet,” “that ordinary people have the right to go to court to defend their environment.” It examines Professor Oliver Houck’s new book recounting eight cases from eight countries where attorneys went to court to protect irreplaceable landscapes and preserve national treasures. At a time when policymakers are preoccupied with the size of footprints (carbon footprints, water footprints, development footprints), the book advances an argument for no footprints at all. The review examines Houck's contribution to the growing literature about the nature of international lawmaking and transboundary legal process, and argues that his case studies help to ground that literature. The review also explores how the comparative cases demonstrate the importance of environmental democracy and challenge ideas of sustainable development.

Keywords: Transboundary Legal Process, International Law, Environmental Law, Conservation, Environmental Law and Economics, Law and Democracy, Transboundary Networks, Sustainable Development, Environmental Ethics

JEL Classification: K32, K33, Q20, Q26

Suggested Citation

Dannenmaier, Eric, Environmental Law and the Loss of Paradise (April 4, 2011). Columbia Journal of Transnational Law, Vol. 49, pp. 463-494, 2011. Available at SSRN:

Eric Dannenmaier (Contact Author)

Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law ( email )

530 West New York Street
Indianapolis, IN 46202
United States


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