Monday, July 22, 2013

Enforcement of environmental law and changing perceptions of harm

Victor Flatt has posted "Too Big to Jail or Too Abstract (or Rich) to Care" to SSRN. The article asks:
(from Rolling Stone)
Why is it that we do not, in the eyes of many, have effective enforcement of important legal principles governing our financial system and our environment, health, and safety?
One answer given by Flatt is that
environmental despoliation and impacts on human health in the 1960s and 1970s were obvious and visible, and were thought to impact all people. 
Now, however,
the impacts of environmental harm have come to seem less immediate and threatening, and therefore are seen as less of a threat to the social order. In such circumstances, the public zeal, which is expressed in calls for better laws, better enforcement, and public pressure, generally has waned....
Perhaps even more important is the erosion of the equitable idea of society, which has been happening in the United States since at least the 1980s. This erosion has allowed certain segments of society to separate from the shorter- and longer-term environmental harms that we now face. In other words, our “community,” which was essentially the majority of the public when the major U.S. environmental laws were passed in the 1970s, is now fragmented into smaller communities and interest groups with newly outsized conceptions of the role of the individual.

1 comment:

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