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Nature's Trust: Environmental Law for a New Ecological Age Paperback – November 28, 2013

4.8 out of 5 stars 29 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

"What Silent Spring did for our perception of the environment, Nature's Trust should do for our perception of environmental protection. Thoroughly researched and beautifully written, this book calls for a revolution in environmental policy and law - now, before it is too late. It is simply brilliant."
James Gustave Speth, author of America the Possible: Manifesto for a New Economy and former dean, Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies

"The gutting of our environmental laws now generates ominous and grotesque distortions in our natural world. This, as Mary Wood so vividly points out, reflects the deeper pollution of our regulatory agencies caused by the influence of big industries. Assembling an impressive range of legal precedents, Wood challenges our government to fulfill its age-old responsibility as "trustee" of public property. Nature's Trust is an eloquent plea to revive a fundamental pillar of civilized law to ensure the survival of a coherent civilization."
Ross Gelbspan, author of The Heat is On and Boiling Point

"At pivotal points in western history, when the failures of government became unconscionable and unbearable, thinkers have come forward with new, catalyzing principles that changed the world. I believe that Nature's Trust is the book we have been waiting for, a new paradigm that can correct the course of history."
Kathleen Dean Moore, co-editor of Moral Ground: Ethical Action for a Planet in Peril

"We face, in climate change, the worst crisis in human history. So it's a good thing we have such a powerful mind rethinking our understanding of legal obligation - and human responsibility."
Bill McKibben, author of Earth and The End of Nature

"Our children are trusting us to protect their Earth. Our governments are on trial for failing that trust. This is the trial that should rivet the public's attention, for all life depends on its outcome. This book puts the people - all of us - in the jury box."
James Hansen, author of Storms of My Grandchildren and former director, NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies

"It is a rare opportunity to read a book that causes us to reimagine the landscape of law, democracy and the environment. Nature's Trust does that. Here, Professor Wood challenges us with a thorough investigation of what it will take to really protect the environment coupled with a profound assessment of the legitimate foundations of government. She demonstrates that the principles of trusteeship animate our relationship to nature as well as to the institutions of the state. These trust duties are the very slate upon which our constitution is written. This is a beautiful, profound, and important book and anyone who cares about our environmental and democratic future needs to read it."
Gerald Torres, Marc and Beth Goldberg Distinguished Visiting Professor of Law, Cornell Law School; Bryant Smith Chair in Law, the University of Texas at Austin School of Law; and co-author of The Miner's Canary

"Nonetheless, as jacket blurbs by Bill McKibben, James Hansen, and Ross Gelbspan express quite well, Nature's Trust is both ambitious and original. For anyone interested in using the legal system to prod action, Wood has made a major contribution."
Rena Steinzor, Science Magazine

Book Description

This book exposes the dysfunction of environmental law and offers a transformative approach based on the public trust doctrine. An ancient and enduring principle, the public trust doctrine empowers citizens to protect their inalienable property rights to crucial resources. This book shows how a trust principle can apply from the local to global level to protect the planet.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 457 pages
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press (September 30, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0521144116
  • ISBN-13: 978-0521144117
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.9 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.7 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (29 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #338,093 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
I first became aware of Mary Wood's work during my junior year of high school. She was giving a speech about the public trust doctrine to an audience of over 10,000 people. The event drew citizens from all sectors of society: scientists, teachers, parents, activists, and students from all levels of education. It was obvious the public wanted to become educated about the inadequacy of the current state of environmental protection. But for the average citizen it is nearly impossible to comprehend environmental law. This book was written for those who wish to know why they should be dissatisfied with a government that believes protecting the environment is a matter of discretion, not obligation.

Albert Einstein once said, "If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough." By that rationale, it is easy to see why Mary Wood is an authority on the public trust doctrine in environmental law. The book is written in plain English--her writing reflects the manner in which laws and policies should be written. She is skillfully able to digest the complexities of modern environmental law for the layman without being patronizing. Readers will find that Nature's Trust reads like a narrative while educating like a textbook. It finds the perfect balance between two drastically different styles of writing. The accessibility of this book may be deceptive. However, accessibility does not come at the expense of substance. Praise by the likes of James Hansen, Ross Gelbspan, Gerald Torres, and Bill McKibben can attest to that fact.

Nature's Trust is so powerful because Professor Wood is able to connect with the reader on an emotional level. She inspires us to reflect on the moral obligation that we have to future generations.
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As an Environmental Law Professor at the University of Oregon, Ms. Wood is uniquely positioned to evaluate the success, or lack thereof, of environmental legislation and regulation since its inception. The power of this book, however, is in its relevance to both the present day and the future, as we face a rapidly changing world with intensifying environmental consequences. The issues addressed in this book are not about the aesthetic desirability of a clean environment, but the absolute survival necessity of reclaiming the legal foundation that can sustain a delicate ecological balance, rather than the status quo that exacerbates the severe ecological imbalance threatening ourselves and certainly our children.
Surveying past failures of environmental law, Ms. Wood challenges us to consider the imminent threat and pervasive consequences specifically of climate change, which she appropriately re-terms as climate emergency. The problem isn't a benign "warming" of the planet, or even what some see as a hum-drum acknowledgment that the climate is changing. It is the fact that our obsession with all things economic and material is placing us on a path to a radically different world of climate extremes. Her impassioned call to awareness - isn't about something that "might" someday affect us - it is to recognize that relying on ineffectual environmental law is currently having truly disastrous consequences. As global, "average" temperatures rise, they exacerbate patterns of both drought and flooding, as well as intensifying extreme storm conditions like typhoons and hurricanes. These weather patterns are but the tip of the iceberg (a metaphorical iceberg that isn't melting - but can easily take down not only the Titanic, but any and all luxury cruise ships that continue on autopilot).
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Format: Paperback
"If only the truth be known". Mary Christina Wood offers no spin, no talking points, in this excellent historical review of a natural tragedy. She presents an extremely well documented, damning exposé of how present environmental laws have been ignored, twisted, abused, misapplied and corrupted by Government officials and the myriad of lobbyists who are willing to sell our children's rightful inheritance for their political or monetary gain. The book, chapter after chapter exposes in vivid detail how our system, enacted to protect our cherished part of this planet, has been and will continue to be, an experiment gone wrong.
As we continue now on this ill conceived path, Wood sheds a bright light on the destruction occurring to nature we need, as a civilization, to survive; and the negative role these laws are playing in that destruction.
Wood is not giving up. She proposes the law of "Nature's Trust"; that nature's essential resources belong to all of us and Governments have a solemn moral obligation to protect and preserve them. She offers a compelling, viable alternative to a system that is on a path to bankrupt that which sustains us all.
This book should be read by everyone who cares about how and why we have come to this point in our existence, and how, with Wood's alternative, we might be able to leave a world as we have known to our children and grandchildren.
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Format: Paperback
Mary Wood should be an inspiration to us all. Professor Wood has developed the framework for perhaps the only approach that can actually solve our climate crisis in time to avert catastrophe. She provides extensive historical support for her legal arguments and shows why this ancient doctrine is still relevant, and most importantly enforceable, today. Her work has inspired countless law students and attorneys and is now being employed in courts around the world. Her writing is clear and refreshing and leaves the reader with hope that we can emerge from our current carbon addiction and provide our children and grandchildren with the clean air that they are entitled to.
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