The Case of the Speluncean Polluters: Six Themes of Environmental Law, Policy, and Ethics
Ruhl, J. B.
Almost as soon as it was invented in the early 1970s, the United States' modern environmental law framework has been the subject of calls for reform. Six divergent reform approaches predominate that debate today, and behind each lies strongly held policy and ethical perspectives. Using the futuristic setting Lon Fuller created in his classic study of legal theory, The Case of the Speluncean Explorers, Professor J.B. Ruhl pits those environmental law approaches against each other as society finds itself on the day of reckoning for the environment in the year 4310 AD. The discovery many centuries earlier of a remarkable substance, placidium, had allowed society to make resource use decisions without environmental consequences, or so it seemed. But the supply of placidium has run dry, and the Supreme Court must decide the framework for making environmental policy decisions for the now precarious future. Not surprisingly, the Court confronts the same divided perspectives we find in play today, on the brink of the second millennium. As we have no substance like placidium on our horizon, and 'many believe the environment can withstand no more of humanity's demands, perhaps we can learn something from the Court's opinion of the future.