Sarah Krakoff, Planetarian Identity Formation And The Relocalization Of Environmental Law

64 Fla. L. Rev. 1 (2011)| | |

Local food, local work, local energy production-all are hallmarks of a resurgence of localism throughout contemporary environmental thought and action. The renaissance of localism might be seen as a retreat from the world’s global environmental problems. This Article maintains, however, that some forms of localism are actually expressions, appropriate ones, of a planetary environmental consciousness. This Article’s centerpiece is an in-depth evaluation of local climate action initiatives, including interviews with participants, as well as other data and observations about their ethics, attitudes, behaviors, and motivations. The values and identities being forged in these initiatives form the basis for timely conceptions of the human relationship with the planet, which in turn provide grist for environmental law and policy design. One overarching conclusion is that environmental laws, even those aimed at solving problems of planetary scale, should include elements that foster localism. The reasons to do so are twofold and strangely complementary. First, in an instrumentalist vein, sustained attitude and behavior changes are most likely to be accomplished through the positive feedbacks between personal and community norms. Second, if we fail to rein in carbon emissions as a global matter, at least some communities will have nurtured the attitudes, behaviors, and patterns of living that might be most adaptive to the resource challenges and scarcities of a climate-changed world. By fostering the planetarian identity, localism therefore has the potential to redeem environmental law, even in the face of its potential failure.

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