The Short-Term Temptations and Long-Term Risks of Environmental Catastrophism

22 Pages Posted: 4 Nov 2016

See all articles by Gary E. Marchant

Gary E. Marchant

Arizona State University - College of Law

Karen Bradshaw

Arizona State University (ASU) - Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law

Date Written: November 11, 2016

Abstract

Framing environmental problems as catastrophic likely undercuts public support for sound environmental policies over time. This article reviews three historic examples of influential books predicting environmental catastrophes. Although the authors brought public attention to real and important problems, the embellished claims that failed to materialize undermined future warnings of environmental problems. We consider the effects of exaggeration on the discourse surrounding global warming, the most serious environmental issue ever faced by modern society. We further consider the incentives for scientists and others to exaggerate impacts to motivate complacent citizens and policymakers. Ultimately, however, exaggerating climate change doomsday will undermine public support for climate change policies if extreme predictions do not materialize.

Keywords: Environmental Law, Climate Change, Catastrophism

Suggested Citation

Marchant, Gary E. and Bradshaw, Karen, The Short-Term Temptations and Long-Term Risks of Environmental Catastrophism (November 11, 2016). Jurimetrics, Vol. 56, Issue 4, Forthcoming. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2864071

Gary E. Marchant

Arizona State University - College of Law ( email )

Box 877906
Tempe, AZ 85287-7906
United States
(480) 965-3246 (Phone)
(480) 965-2427 (Fax)

Karen Bradshaw (Contact Author)

Arizona State University (ASU) - Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law ( email )

Farmer Building 440G PO Box 872011
Tempe, AZ 85287
United States

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