Laura King, ‘Narrative, Nuisance, and Environmental Law’

Introduction:
In this paper, I address the early climate change impact claims that sounded in nuisance, such as Comer v. Murphy Oil and Native Village of Kivalina v. Exxon Mobil. I propose that nuisance law and the litigation process allowed for the shaping and broadcasting of a new narrative that helped both to break new ground in the telling of difficult environmental disasters in general and to energize the climate movement in particular. Specifically, my claim is that environmental litigators remodeled and combined private and public nuisance scripts to create a hybrid script for climate change that worked — if not through redress, then by narrative relief and inspiration. With comparisons to genres such as lyric poetry and fairytales, I argue that litigation allows us to engage in a kind of psychological ritual in which chaos is transformed into order. Such a ritual is especially needed for the unwieldy climate change crisis with its massive scope, global reach, diffuse and unpredictable effects, and hard-to-track causes …

Laura King, Narrative, Nuisance, and Environmental Law. Journal of Environmental Law and Litigation, vol 29, 331 (2014).

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