Research Methods in Environmental Law
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Research Methods in Environmental Law

A Handbook

Edited by Andreas Philippopoulos-Mihalopoulos and Victoria Brooks

This timely Handbook brings innovative, free-thinking and radical approaches to research methods in environmental law. With a comprehensive approach it brings together key concepts such as sustainability, climate change, activism, education and Actor-Network Theory. It considers how the Anthropocene subjects environmental law to critique, and to the needs of the variety of bodies, human and non-human, that require its protection. This much-needed book provides a theoretically informed analysis of methodological approaches in the discipline, such as constitutional analysis, rights-based approaches, spatial/geographical analysis, immersive methodologies and autoethnography, which will aid in the practical critique and re-imagining of Environmental Law.
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Chapter 16: Environmental law in the age of the Anthropocene: how to normatively communicate on environmental change and risks

Inger-Johanne Sand


Environmental law has been developed cross-disciplinarily in close contact with empirical natural sciences on the state of the environment. With the increasingly more intensive and comprehensive interventions of human beings on the environment, defining environmental damage and hazards empirically as well as politically and normatively has become not only increasingly complex and controversial, but also crucial. How we assess empirical data, and how we conceptualize the values and the risks involved is decisive. Empirical and legal dogmatic methods are currently insufficient in terms of grasping the complexity of communicating environmental hazards. Communication and semantic theory is consequently suggested as a methodological approach in order to critically analyse more precisely the present state of environmental law, and how it could develop in order to convey the complexities of environment hazards in a legal language. It is suggested in the chapter that the planet has entered the age of the Anthropocene and, with that, an immensely complex environmental situation requiring new concepts and standards of environmental law. Sustainability and precaution have been tried out as reflexive legal concepts, but often losing conflictual situations to the more binary concepts of economic law. Applying the insights of theories of communicative differentiation is suggested in order to analyse more specifically what types of semantics and concepts are required to normatively express the current situation of environmental hazards and risks.

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