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Volume 33, Issue 2 — February 2003


Kindergarten Through Twelfth-Grade Education for Sustainability

by Carmela M. Federico, Jaimie P. Cloud, Jack Byrne, Keith Wheeler

The worth of education must now be measured against the standards of decency and human survival—the issues now looming so large before us in the 21st century. It is not education, but education of a certain kind, that will save us.1

—David Orr

Seen from the lofty perspective of life in these United States, the current world seems to function pretty well. The Cato Institute recently published a book, It's Getting Better All the Time, in which they detail a vast array of statistics that point to increasing human well-being.2 Air and water in the United States are increasingly clean, and the cost of many goods (food, clothing, electronics, telecommunications) continue to decline as their quality increases. Why, then, do we need to think about changing our ways and our educational practices in order to assure a good life for future generations?

The reasons for doing so are accumulating, globally and regionally. Even in this country, if you scratch a little deeper, different truths emerge; other indicators paint a grimmer picture of contemporary American life. Many Americans are caught in a consumption treadmill—during the 1990s, economists and the media constantly bewailed our low savings rate, high personal bankruptcy rate, and historically high rate of credit card debt. Gallup polls and educators both provide evidence of the remarkable, and unprecedented, pessimism of our youth with regard to the future and to their future; this pessimism seems bleakest amongst inner-city, at-risk youth, but many American youth from all classes and all places seem to feel this way.3 The costs of such despairing views are high: many youth never reach their full potential and don't contribute their full talents and energy to the growth and development of our society.

Wildlife Law: A Coming of Age

by Dale D. Goble and Eric T. Freyfogle

For years, individual law professors have offered courses in wildlife law. Many of the courses have centered on the Endangered Species Act (ESA) or on the preservation of biological diversity. Others have considered the subject more broadly, attending to issues of the allocation of power within the federal system, to wildlife-related problems on federal lands, or to issues arising under state game laws. In January 2002, wildlife law came of age with the publication by Foundation Press of the first casebook covering the subject.1 We authored that book, and in doing so took on the challenge of assessing how the subject might best be bounded and structured.

In compiling the book, we cast our net widely, drawing upon the full range of wildlife-related legal materials coming from local and state governments, Indian tribes, the federal government, and international bodies. Because wildlife law has such a long but little-known history, we drew extensively upon the field's rich legal background. Because people value wildlife in many ways and for many purposes, we also sought to cover the full range of legal problems that wildlife posed, from tort claims based on spider bites, to disputes over subsistence fishing rights and oyster beds, to claims that mourning doves are not "game" birds, to tribal efforts to enforce off-reservation hunting rights, to conflicts over critical habitat losses on public and private lands. Inevitably our efforts at inclusiveness resulted in a big book—1,500 pages despite substantial cuts at the page-proof stage. No instructor, we knew, could cover all the topics. We therefore arranged our materials into distinct chapters, usable (we hope) in nearly any combination.

Resource Use and Sustainability

by Amit Kapur & Thomas E. Graedel


Sustainability with respect to the use of resources has two components: (1) how is the rate of resource use related to the overall stock of resources, and (2) what portion of resources in use are lost to the environment. The first component assumes critical importance in the United States. In 1990, the average American was responsible for the extraction and employment of over 50 kilograms (kg) of material daily, more than anywhere else in the world. Ten years later, the quantity has increased by about 10%, and some of the associated environmental impacts have increased as well. The lack of conscious efforts and proactive policies has promoted what appears to be unsustainable behavior. Overall, however, no attempt has been made to define sustainability in quantitative terms, to set goals for improvement, and to measure progress toward these goals. A variety of activities characterized as sustainable have been proposed, and clearly would be beneficial. Until precise measures are taken to address and understand sustainability, however, the United States and the world will have no clear picture of how sustainable or unsustainable they are, whether or not they are moving in the right direction, and when resource sustainability will be achieved.

Integrating Sustainable Development into U.S. Law and Business

by E. Donald Elliott and Mohamed Tarifi

Few if any U.S. environmental laws explicitly consider sustainable development as their goal or objective. At most, a few U.S. laws may be said to be partial or imperfect reflections of sustainable development theory and to incorporate portions of the concept of sustainable development. Nonetheless, recent quantitative indicators on a cross-national basis suggest that U.S. law and policy has been reasonably effective at promoting sustainable development. The United States was ranked 11th among countries on a quantitative index of sustainable development in 2001 and scores well on most indicators except energy usage and climate change.

In this Article, the anomaly of a system of law that achieves a goal that is not a conscious design principle for the law is explored at a theoretical level with reference to principles of evolutionary biology. It is argued that legal systems, at least in common-law countries, reflect two different kinds of intelligence: conscious design and unconscious incorporation of cultural norms. A variety on nonlegal drivers are considered that may cause businesses to adopt sustainable development principles, even if they are legally required. It is concluded, however, that the U.S. system of environmental laws could be improved by making sustainable development an explicit guiding principle as well as an incidental byproduct of the legal system. At the end of the Article, suggestions are presented for how to incorporate sustainable development principles into the U.S. legal system.

Private Land Made (Too) Simple

by Eric T. Freyfogle

In a recent article in the Yale Law Journal, Profs. Thomas W. Merrill and Henry E. Smith express concerns about what they take to be the excessive abstraction of law-and-economics writing on private property. This scholarly discourse, they tell us, seems to have forgotten that property law has to do with things. It has become too focused on property as a bundle of legal entitlements and liabilities, overlooking the underlying res that a person might actually own. In the case of land, scholars have forgotten that property law deals with the hypothetical Blackacre or Greenacre, rights to which might and do differ from typical contract rights because of the actual, physical nature of land. Professors Merrill and Smith admonish their colleagues to recover this lost wisdom. Doing so, they claim, would improve the ongoing economic discourse: it would help explain why certain elements of property law are as they are, and it would aid ongoing discussions about theoretical issues that economists find intriguing.

As a property scholar who has long tracked this economic discourse from the sidelines, I find myself heartened by the question that Professors Merrill and Smith pose: what has happened to property in law and economics? And I am heartened even more that such prominent insiders would be the ones to raise the question. What, indeed, has happened to property at the hands of such economic scholars, particularly to privately owned land?