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

See all articles by Robin Kundis Craig

Robin Kundis Craig

USC Gould School of Law

J. B. Ruhl

Vanderbilt University - Law School

Date Written: December 8, 2021

Abstract

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

Suggested Citation

Craig, Robin Kundis and Ruhl, J. B., New Realties Require New Priorities: Heading Off the Climate Dystopia Death Spirals by Re-Prioritizing the Environment and Environmental Law (December 8, 2021). Chapter 1 in Keith Hirokawa & Jessica Owley, eds., Environmental Law, Disrupted 10-31 (Nov. 2021), Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3981014

Robin Kundis Craig (Contact Author)

USC Gould School of Law ( email )

699 Exposition Boulevard
Los Angeles, CA 90089
United States

J. B. Ruhl

Vanderbilt University - Law School ( email )

131 21st Avenue South
Nashville, TN 37203-1181
United States

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