A Constitutional Framework for Intergenerational Equity can Secure the Future of Life on Earth
Friday, October 27, 2017

4:00 PM - 5:00 PM (Eastern Time)
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The global crises of climate change and extinction imperil all life on Earth, including present and future human generations. I call attention to an often-overlooked framework for environmental protection that is premised on explicit, powerful, constitutional commands or ancient sovereign public trust principles, both of which protect intergenerational equity. Enforcement of intergenerational equity offers sustainable protection for the biosphere in 144 (75%) of nations. Those 144 nations emit the majority of atmospheric CO2 and host the majority of biodiversity by several measures. I present useful examples of atmospheric trust litigation in disparate constitutional contexts of two nations. I examine widely used standards for conservation practice and find they overlook ethics and law that should circumscribe practitioners and current user groups. I briefly review relevant environmental ethics, law, and practice, as a way to alert diverse audiences to the need for new methods and reallocating investments in research and action. Application and enforcement of protective constitutional and public trust frameworks by decision-makers and courts would better secure climatic and ecological conditions that can support the survival and well-being of life on Earth. (Thanks to my co-authors for this work: Kyle A. Artelle, Chris T. Darimont, William S. Lynn, Paul Paquet, Francisco J. Santiago-Ávila, Rance Shaw, Mary C. Wood)
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