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Looking Backward, Looking Forward: The Next 40 Years of Environmental Law

June 2013

Citation: 43 ELR 10492

Issue: 6

Author: Robert V. Percival

The only certainty concerning predictions for the future of the environment is that most of them are likely to be wrong. This is illustrated by the fate of past predictions, such as those contained in Paul Ehrlich’s Population Bomb, Gregg Easterbrook’s A Moment on the Earth, and Bjørn Lomborg’s The Skeptical Environmentalist. While it is difficult to guess at the future of the environment, predictions concerning environmental law are even more hazardous because they turn in large part on the future of politics. After reviewing current political gridlock over environmental concerns, this Article considers contemporary forecasts of the fate of the planet (including those contained in Al Gore’s The Future and the 2052 Report) and the role of technological change in creating opportunities for environmental progress.

Robert V. Percival is the Robert F. Stanton Professor of Law and Director of the Environmental Law Program at the University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law.

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