1st Edition

Ecological Law and the Planetary Crisis A Legal Guide for Harmony on Earth

By Geoffrey Garver Copyright 2021
    266 Pages
    by Routledge

    266 Pages
    by Routledge

    This book uses a transdisciplinary systems approach to examine how Earth’s human-caused ecological crisis arose and presents a new legal approach for overcoming it.

    Ecological Law and the Planetary Crisis first examines how the history of humanity’s social metabolism, along with the history of human inventions and ideas, led to the human-Earth dilemma we see today and explains why contemporary law is inadequate for confronting this dilemma. The book goes on to propose ecological law—law that maintains human activity within ecological limits such as planetary boundaries while ensuring social justice and equity—as an essential element of an urgently needed radical pathway of change toward a perpetual, mutually enhancing human-Earth relationship. Finally, it offers a systems-based analytical tool for organizing actions to promote the transition from environmental to ecological law.

    Increasing the visibility, clarity and development of ecological law, this book will be of great interest to students and scholars of ecological and environmental law and governance.


    Part 1: The Role of Law in the Rise of the Global Ecological Crisis

    1. The Anthropocene as a Frame of Reference

    2. The Human Dilemma in the Anthropocene

    3. Energy Transitions in History and Their Impacts

    4. How Conceptual Factors Like Law Helped Lead to the Anthropocene

    Part 2: The Failure of Environmental Law to Respect Key Ecological Limits

    5. An Overview of the Failures of Environmental Law

    6. Key Examples of the Inadequacy of Environmental Law

    Part 3: Ecological Law: Systems-based Rules for a Flourishing Earth

    7. What is Ecological Law?

    8. A Mutually Enhancing Human-Earth Relationship as the Primary Goal for Law

    9. The Systems-Based Perspective Underlying Ecological Law

    10. The Limits-Insistent Narrative and Planetary Boundaries

    11. Eleven Core Features of Ecological Law

    12. Ecological Integrity and Attachment to Place in Ecological Law

    Part 4: Getting from Environmental to Ecological Law

    13. A Systems-Based Guide for Moving from Environmental to Ecological Law

    14. Overcoming Ecological Challenges of International Trade: An Illustration

    Part 5: Degrowth and Ecological Law

    15. The Degrowth Movement as a Testing Ground for Ecological Law


    Geoffrey Garver teaches part time at McGill University and Concordia University in Montreal, Canada, and coordinates research on law and governance for the Leadership for the Ecozoic program of McGill University and the University of Vermont. He is a member of the Steering Committee of the Ecological Law and Governance Association and is active in the international degrowth movement. He received his PhD (Geography) from McGill University in 2016 and has a B.S. (Chemical Engineering) from Cornell University, a J.D. from Michigan Law School and an LL.M. from McGill University.

    "Refreshingly, this lucid and engaging book devotes little time to handwringing over this ‘planetary crisis’ and instead moves swiftly to how to transform legal systems to ensure that humanity lives within Earth’s ecological limits. Garver views legal systems as complex, adaptive, and highly interconnected systems, and argues that a transition from environmental laws to ecological laws is essential to bringing about what Thomas Berry referred to as a ‘mutually enhancing human-Earth relationship.’ Geoffrey Garver is a leading ecological law scholar and this book demonstrates why.  By showing how to combine an analysis of the ‘leverage points’ which can be used to create systemic change with an assessment of those features that ‘lock in’ resistance to change, he makes an important contribution to our understanding of how to bring about the legal transformations necessary to establish ecologically viable human societies." -- Cormac Cullinan, author of Wild Law: A manifesto for Earth Justice

    "The timing of this publication is extremely fortuitous. Prior to the Corona-pandemic, ecological law might have been viewed as utopian, now it becomes vitally important for humanity and the book shows why. A precise analysis of systemic failure, it defines the principles and rules of Earth-based law and governance. A truly outstanding read." -- Klaus Bosselmann, University of Auckland, New Zealand

    "Geoffrey Garver stands without peer on the intersection of ecological law and systems thinking. This nuanced and sophisticated book provides one of the clearest accounts yet about how law can be reconfigured to promote a mutually enhancing human-Earth relationship." -- Peter D. Burdon, Associate Dean (learning and teaching), University of Adelaide Law School, Australia

    "This book offers a bold vision of ecological law, a radical shift of how we think and go about environmental regulation. [It] will be useful both for students and scholars of environmental law." -- Giorgos Kallis, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, Spain

    "Absolutely indispensable, this fiery legal work introduces the content of ecological law, a conception of law of which the fundamental idea is to regulate the human-Earth relationship within ecological limits without neglecting law’s major principle: justice. Geoffrey Garver is a pioneer and revolutionizes legal theory with his transdisciplinary approach and his direct proposal to test Ecological Law on the political economic level as a strategy for degrowth." -- Cristiane Derani, Dean of Graduate Studies, Universidade Federal de Santa Catarina, Brazil