Thought, Law, Rights and Action in the Age of Environmental Crisis

Thought, Law, Rights and Action in the Age of Environmental Crisis

Edited by Anna Grear and Evadne Grant

In the climate-pressed Anthropocene epoch, nothing could be more urgent than fresh engagements with the fractious relationships between ‘humanity’, law and the living order. This collection draws together theoretical reflections, doctrinal analyses and insights drawn from rights-based praxis to offer thoughtful – and at times provocative – engagements with the limitations of law at it faces the complexities of contemporary socio-ecological life-worlds in an age of climate crisis.

Chapter 1: Doubt and denial: epistemic responsibility meets climate change scepticism

Lorraine Code

Subjects: environment, environmental law, law - academic, environmental law, human rights, politics and public policy, human rights


Three themes run through the questions I will address in this chapter: my purpose is to suggest some insights that emerge from exploring their interconnections. First, I will read a stand-off between ecological thinkers/activists, climatologists, and climate-change sceptics as one way of indicating how questions central to the epistemology and politics of testimony bear, directly and indirectly, on debates surrounding climate crisis, gender justice, and development projects. In so doing, I use the label ‘ecological thinkers’ to refer to theorists and activists who work from an ecologically-informed stance towards understanding climate change, where thinking ecologically encompasses broad considerations of the implications and effects of historical-geographical ‘situatedness’ for citizenship and politics, broadly conceived. It is about critically imagining, crafting, and endeavouring to enact principles of ideal cohabitation with one another, and in and with the wider world. In taking my point of entry from a contrast between climate change sceptics and ecological activists, I am not presuming that this contrast alone is definitive of the matters I will address, but that framing the questions thus facilitates one plausible way of approaching the specificities and generalities of these multiply tangled issues. In the stand-off I refer to, the debate often comes down to a contest – to fighting science with science – and, for lay persons, to a contest between/among conflicting expert testimonies in which decisions about where it is reasonable to place belief and trust are at once epistemologically and ethically-politically fraught.