The complex phenomenon known as 'the natural environment' is a product of a variety of discourses. Discourses of Environmental Law and the Conceptualisation of Climate Change explores the emergence of different discourses of the environment – scientific, economic, political, aesthetic, moral and legal discourses – analyzing the simultaneous separateness and interrelatedness of their methods for thinking and acting upon the environment. It considers how those conceptions of the environment frame the terms of the current debate on climate change within the environmental legal imagination.
Discourses of Environmental Law and the Conceptualisation of Climate Change examines how the legal recognition of the environment, in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, presented a conundrum for the law, and the ways by which anthropogenically induced climate change is similarly legally confronting today. Recognition of the collective social interest in the environment required realignment of private rights and collective legal interests and led to the development of pointedly interdisciplinary and negotiated techniques of legal governance. Established environmental law supports a range of legal interventions in response to climate change. However, the determination of questions central to legal decision making and action, such as causality, rights, responsibility and blame, are not readily determined in the face of an environmental threat that is the result of multiple and cumulative events across legal jurisdictions, and likely to have consequences well into the future.
Discourses of Environmental Law and the Conceptualisation of Climate Change goes on to situates the current legal response to climate change in the context of environmental thinking, and reflects on how and why particular legal responses to global warming/climate change are taken up. It analyzes how crises such as climate change are simultaneously driven by and shape understandings of the 'environment', as well as considering how environmental law is being refigured to adapt to the peculiar legal and policy dilemmas presented by climate change.
Part 1: Different Discourses of the Environment
1. Moral and Aesthetic Discourses of the Environment
2. Scientific, Political, Economic Discourses of the Environment
3. Legal Discourses of the Environment
Part 2: Climate Change - Refiguring Environmental Legal Understanding
4. Contemporary Construction of the Environment
5. Ecologically Sustainable Development
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Jo-Ann Goodie is a Senior Lecturer in Law at Murdoch University, Australia.