Volume 6

Property in the Anthropocene

J. Peter Byrne

Human-induced climate change threatens perilous risks for our physical homes. It also poses a serious challenge to our legal institutions. Several scholars already have remarked on the disruption climate change has brought to specific legal areas, such as tort, standing, and national security. This essay argues that climate change will also disrupt fundamental ideas about real property. Prior work has explored the need for fresh approaches to land use regulation and a shift in regulatory takings law. This essay looks at the more fundamental assumptions and principles of property law. It maintains that the growing need for human management of dynamic natural forces, distorted by greenhouse gas emissions, will erode the foundations of physical stability and owner autonomy that shape basic doctrines of property law.

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