Nature's Trust: Environmental Law for a New Ecological Age (Anglais) Broché – 28 novembre 2013
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'The gutting of our environmental laws now generates ominous and grotesque distortions in our natural world. This, as Mary Wood so vividly points out, reflects the deeper pollution of our regulatory agencies caused by the influence of big industries. Assembling an impressive range of legal precedents, Wood challenges our government to fulfil its age-old responsibility as 'trustee' of public property. Nature's Trust is an eloquent plea to revive a fundamental pillar of civilized law to ensure the survival of a coherent civilization.' Ross Gelbspan, author of The Heat is On and Boiling Point
'At pivotal points in western history, when the failures of government became unconscionable and unbearable, thinkers have come forward with new, catalyzing principles that changed the world. I believe that Nature's Trust is the book we have been waiting for, a new paradigm that can correct the course of history.' Kathleen Dean Moore, co-editor of Moral Ground: Ethical Action for a Planet in Peril
'We face, in climate change, the worst crisis in human history. So it's a good thing we have such a powerful mind rethinking our understanding of legal obligation - and human responsibility.' Bill McKibben, author of Earth and The End of Nature
'Our children are trusting us to protect their Earth. Our governments are on trial for failing that trust. This is the trial that should rivet the public's attention, for all life depends on its outcome. This book puts the people - all of us - in the jury box.' James Hansen, former Director, NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies, and author of Storms of My Grandchildren
'It is a rare opportunity to read a book that causes us to reimagine the landscape of law, democracy and the environment. Nature's Trust does that. Here, Professor Wood challenges us with a thorough investigation of what it will take to really protect the environment coupled with a profound assessment of the legitimate foundations of government. She demonstrates that the principles of trusteeship animate our relationship to nature as well as to the institutions of the state. These trust duties are the very slate upon which our constitution is written. This is a beautiful, profound, and important book and anyone who cares about our environmental and democratic future needs to read it.' Gerald Torres, Marc and Beth Goldberg Distinguished Visiting Professor of Law, Cornell Law School; Bryant Smith Chair in Law, University of Texas, Austin School of Law, and co-author of The Miner's Canary
'Nonetheless, as jacket blurbs by Bill McKibben, James Hansen, and Ross Gelbspan express quite well, Nature's Trust is both ambitious and original. For anyone interested in using the legal system to prod action, Wood has made a major contribution.' Rena Steinzor, Science Magazine
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Albert Einstein once said, "If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough." By that rationale, it is easy to see why Mary Wood is an authority on the public trust doctrine in environmental law. The book is written in plain English--her writing reflects the manner in which laws and policies should be written. She is skillfully able to digest the complexities of modern environmental law for the layman without being patronizing. Readers will find that Nature's Trust reads like a narrative while educating like a textbook. It finds the perfect balance between two drastically different styles of writing. The accessibility of this book may be deceptive. However, accessibility does not come at the expense of substance. Praise by the likes of James Hansen, Ross Gelbspan, Gerald Torres, and Bill McKibben can attest to that fact.
Nature's Trust is so powerful because Professor Wood is able to connect with the reader on an emotional level. She inspires us to reflect on the moral obligation that we have to future generations. She guides the readers through the necessary process of becoming upset, frustrated, and discouraged by the current state of the environmental legal system. But she isn't content to abandon the reader in a state of despair. Many people are already upset with the way our government handles environmental protection. But she helps us to develop a logical basis for our dissatisfaction built upon longstanding notions of governmental obligation. By defining the breach of duty of our government as a trustee--whose fiduciary responsibility is to protect the ecological res--she is able to offer us a way to restore governmental accountability. She helps us realize that there exists a means by which we can bring real change. This book is the catalyst that is needed for a paradigm shift with respect to the way which we understand the duty that is owed to us by our government. It is impossible not to be moved while reading this book.
Surveying past failures of environmental law, Ms. Wood challenges us to consider the imminent threat and pervasive consequences specifically of climate change, which she appropriately re-terms as climate emergency. The problem isn't a benign "warming" of the planet, or even what some see as a hum-drum acknowledgment that the climate is changing. It is the fact that our obsession with all things economic and material is placing us on a path to a radically different world of climate extremes. Her impassioned call to awareness - isn't about something that "might" someday affect us - it is to recognize that relying on ineffectual environmental law is currently having truly disastrous consequences. As global, "average" temperatures rise, they exacerbate patterns of both drought and flooding, as well as intensifying extreme storm conditions like typhoons and hurricanes. These weather patterns are but the tip of the iceberg (a metaphorical iceberg that isn't melting - but can easily take down not only the Titanic, but any and all luxury cruise ships that continue on autopilot).
The last person I would expect to highlight the hopeless failure of current environmental law would be an environmental law professor, and I think this is a courageous and profoundly honest book. It is a call to reclaim the essential foundation of law itself, its purpose and meaning. The success of utilizing legal technicalities has biased courts and governmental bureaucracies toward the letter of the law - indeed we've gotten lost among the dotted `i's and crossed `t's and have sacrificed completely the spirit and intent of our environmental laws. While it appears the author is advocating a paradigm change, and that's a helpful construct to use, the actual problem is we've lost sight of the sun itself - the organizing principle of our legal maze, without which we are subject to a piecemeal, chaotic, relativistic, legal universe now threatening all we hold dear. To reclaim the legal foundation of the trust doctrine, as conceptualized here, based constitutionally on the ecological/natural world, provides an otherwise lacking common-sense approach to a legal system hopelessly complex, irrelevant and impotent. It can offer the environmental protections and behavioral guidance that we rely on a legal system to provide.
Reclaiming language, Ms Wood advocates a conservative perspective in the absolute truest sense of the word, in response to the radically extremist perspective that we can live without regard to the consequences of blind resource extraction and pollution. The denialist outrage that often greets books such as this is nothing more than the cries of withdrawal of those powerfully addicted to greedy dreams of unlimited materialism.
Ms. Wood masterfully contrasts the imminent threat of ecological crisis as perversely matched in degree by the impotence of existing environmental law. Seeing grievous past failures and a searingly bleak future prospect as she assesses where our current legal and ecological climate is leading us, she does not blink, there are no blinders, there is no denial. It is difficult sharing in her perception of the current state of the world. But such acute perception of "what is", also lends itself to a tangible, meaningful vision of what could be.
Despite years of increasing pessimism, I experienced this book as tremendously inspiring, and dare I say, cautiously hopeful. Content aside, it is an immensely enjoyable book to read - the author uses words, concepts and history like the strokes from an artist's brush to provide context, impact and vivid color to a very bleak topic. If you value democracy this is a very important book to read. If law is to have any validity or meaning in the future, this book is a vital statement as for rescuing it from its lost moorings. And if you simply cherish our world with all its ecological richness and beauty - and have a desire to see it continue, this is an absolutely essential book to read. Then, buy it for those others we know in the regulative bureaucracy, the courts, the legislative branch and for any engaged citizen of our commons.
As we continue now on this ill conceived path, Wood sheds a bright light on the destruction occurring to nature we need, as a civilization, to survive; and the negative role these laws are playing in that destruction.
Wood is not giving up. She proposes the law of "Nature's Trust"; that nature's essential resources belong to all of us and Governments have a solemn moral obligation to protect and preserve them. She offers a compelling, viable alternative to a system that is on a path to bankrupt that which sustains us all.
This book should be read by everyone who cares about how and why we have come to this point in our existence, and how, with Wood's alternative, we might be able to leave a world as we have known to our children and grandchildren.
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