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Darkness, Visible: Global Warming and British Anti-Slavery

November 2006

Citation: 36 ELR 10845

Issue: 11

Author: Craig Holt Segall

Editors' Summary: The environmental movement is just beginning to grapple with the problem of climate change and is doing so in a historical vacuum. Environmentalists would benefit from studying the last major social movement aimed at making the basic economic underpinnings of a society morally visible: British anti-slavery. That movement, too, dealt with an international economic system causing enormous human suffering; its leaders succeeded in convincing Britain to abandon the slave trade at considerable national cost. In this Article, Craig Segall analyzes the structures and goals of the two movements and suggests that developing an understanding of climate change as a moral crisis must be the ultimate goal of climate change litigation and legislative policy. It is the first paper to apply social movement theory and historical analysis to the two crises.

Craig Segall is in his third year at Stanford Law School and received his degree in ecology and evolution from the University of Chicago. He has worked, during summers and school breaks, for Environmental Defense, NRDC, and Earthjustice. At Stanford, he is an advanced student in the Environmental Law Clinic with a particular interest in climate change litigation.

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