What Is Earth Jurisprudence?: Key Principles to Transform Law for the Health of the Planet
18 Penn State Environmental Law Review (2009)
21 Pages Posted: 26 Jul 2015
Date Written: 2009
We have entered a pivotal time in the history of Earth, with the likelihood of global warming of at least two degrees Celsius, the compromise of all major ecosystems of Earth, and the extinction of thousands of species. As the moral agents on this planet, humankind has the responsibility to recreate human institutions to meet this challenge. Into this momentous niche of time, the field of Earth Jurisprudence has emerged with a goal of transforming law and governance for the sake of the planet.
The article proposes key principles underlying this new approach to law and governance. As a key premise, Earth Jurisprudence advances the necessity of a shift in thinking from purely human-centered to Earth-centered systems of law and governance. Without such a jurisprudential shift, the article argues that Earth and humanity remain at peril.
To contribute to the development of the field of Earth Jurisprudence, this article draws from three themes articulated by Thomas Berry for the functioning of the universe – subjectivity, communion, and differentiation. From a jurisprudential perspective, the article explores a vision of Earth Jurisprudence through corresponding principles of the intrinsic value of Earth, the relational responsibility of humanity toward Earth, and the democratic governance of the Earth community. These jurisprudential principles are illustrated through a legal framework of rights, responsibilities, and duties and through the representative legal doctrines of standing, the public trust doctrine, and intergenerational equity.
Keywords: environmental, Earth, global warming, extinction, jurisprudence, standing, public trust doctrine, intergenerational equity, future generations, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Stern Report, Thomas Berry, Earth Democracy, Democracy Schools, ecosystem governance
JEL Classification: K10, K32
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation