The ecological narrative of risk and the emergence of toxic tort litigation
Goodie, J. (2011) The ecological narrative of risk and the emergence of toxic tort litigation. In: Philippopoulos-Mihalopoulos, Andreas, (ed.) Law and Ecology: Environmental Legal Foundations. Routledge, London, pp. 65-82.
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Legal understanding of the environment is contingent; it is shaped by the law's interface with a range of non-legal discourses and ideas. Attempts to govern the environment have stretched and unsettled legal orthodoxy. The environment, as a legal object, is not simply a physical space; it is a contingent and instrumental object, determined by human activity, social values, and legal and non-legal calculations. The environment does not fit readily into any of the usual categories pertaining to legal rights and interests.
The 'environment' acquires its meaning through the continuous interchange of the many differently located understandings and attempts to define and articulate environmental entities, ideas and problems. Since the mid-twentieth century, ecology, in synthesising ethics and ecological science, has become the dominant means of understanding the environment and environmental health.-Although it began to emerge much earlier, from the mid-twentieth century an environmental way of thinking has shaped the ways in which humans live, work, and recreate. In turn the environment has been defined and limited by patterns of individual and collective consumption. These patterns of consumption have placed certain environments at risk, and have created toxic environments that have become an object of 'risk anxiety'.
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