The Tyranny of Baselines

22 Pages Posted: 2 Mar 2024 Last revised: 18 Apr 2024

See all articles by Jessica Owley

Jessica Owley

University of Miami - School of Law

Karen Bradshaw

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

Robin Kundis Craig

University of Kansas

Keith H. Hirokawa

Albany Law School

Date Written: March 1, 2024

Abstract

Many environmental law paradigms focus on fixed points. Sometimes, the fixed points are in the past, and environmental laws call upon us to look at a baseline or previous state of nature and compare our actions against it. Other approaches call for us to consider an ideal state and develop strategies regarding how to reach it. In a 4° Celsius world, both strategies fail. Adhering to baselines is meaningless and striving for goals that are unachievable may lead to paralysis. This Article, excerpted from Adapting to High-Level Warming: Equity, Governance, and Law (ELI Press forthcoming 2024), explores an alternative mode for moving forward with an approach that minimizes suffering.

Keywords: Environmental Law, Baselines, Shifting Baseline Syndrome, Climate Change

Suggested Citation

Owley, Jessica and Bradshaw, Karen and Craig, Robin Kundis and Hirokawa, Keith H., The Tyranny of Baselines (March 1, 2024). Environmental Law Reporter, Vol. 54, No. 3, 2024, Arizona State University Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law Legal Studies Research Paper No. 4742080, USC Law Legal Studies Paper No. 24-19, University of Miami Legal Studies Research Paper No. 4742080, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=4742080

Jessica Owley (Contact Author)

University of Miami - School of Law ( email )

P.O. Box 248087
Coral Gables, FL 33146
United States

Karen Bradshaw

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

Box 877906
Tempe, AZ 85287-7906
United States

HOME PAGE: http://Kmbradshaw.com

Robin Kundis Craig

University of Kansas ( email )

School of Law
1535 W. 15th St.
Lawrence, KS 66045
United States

Keith H. Hirokawa

Albany Law School ( email )

80 New Scotland Avenue
Albany, NY 12208
United States

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