Adaptive Law in the Anthropocene
23 Pages Posted: 1 Mar 2018
Date Written: 2015
The sky has fallen. We are now firmly rooted in a new epoch scientists have named the Anthropocene, where the activities of humans will most certainly negatively impact the trajectory of Earth and its inhabitants. What the Anthropocene fully holds is uncertain, but there are a few clues. The global ecology is shifting. The oceans are dying. The planet is getting hotter and drier, and its storms increasingly volatile. Amidst this changing climate is evidence of a failed approach to economic development in the Global South. Globally, the poor are becoming poorer. Inequality reigns as the global economy shrinks. This thought piece and Essay explores these twin issues — human-created climate change and neoliberal economic development — and argues that they are linked in ways not fully addressed by the emerging discourse on climate change adaptation. In particular, this Essay argues that reliance on neoliberal economic development institutions and methodologies to engage in the climate change adaptation project will render states in the Global South even more vulnerable and less resilient in the face of climate change. This Essay also offers a preliminary agenda and suggested starting points for scholars seeking to apply adaptive legal principles to international development.
Part I examines the Anthropocene, particularly the effects of Anthropogenic climate change in the Global South. Part II explores neoliberal development in the Global South and, building on the growing body of literature critiquing neoliberalism, makes the case that, in the Anthropocene, the assumptions that support its pervasive use no longer hold. The Part also exposes aspects of neoliberal development, such as reliance on private actors, requirement for a stable investment environment, and reliance on markets for growth, that may render states in the Global South even more vulnerable to climate change. Drawing on the existing literature on adaptive law, Part III proposes potential pathways for development that might better respond to the needs of the Global South during the Anthropocene. We begin with the question: What is the Anthropocene?
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