New Realties Require New Priorities: Heading Off the Climate Dystopia Death Spirals by Re-Prioritizing the Environment and Environmental Law
Chapter 1 in Keith Hirokawa & Jessica Owley, eds., Environmental Law, Disrupted 10-31 (Nov. 2021)
26 Pages Posted: 14 Dec 2021
Date Written: December 8, 2021
This chapter argues that the existential threat of climate change (and its associated phenomena like ocean acidification) demands re-prioritization of political and economic capital toward the environmental Sustainable Development Goals and to environmental law more generally—especially in light of the increasing need for robust climate change adaptation measures on many fronts. To put it bluntly, environmental deterioration is not a challenge, as the U.N. would have it, but it is the challenge of our time—both to human development progress and to the continued existence of functional ecological systems. Our logic is simple, but it completely inverts natural human reactions and political instincts by requiring that humans take a long-term perspective on social well-being, fully acknowledging their dependence on environmental systems. As early sustainable development theorists acknowledged, the environment is the boundary of, and not co-equal to, development. As such, the environment constrains potential human progress both economically and socially and hence needs to be re-prioritized.
Keywords: Climate change, sustainable development goals, SDGs, Anthropocene, priroties
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