SIE10. Arden Rowell on the Psychology of Environmental Law
Play • 1 hr 2 min
On this episode of Free Range, Mike Livermore speaks with Arden Rowell, a Professor of Law at the University of Illinois College of Law. Rowell’s work focuses on environmental law, human behavior, and the incorporation of a multidisciplinary approach to the study of environmental law. Her new book, The Psychology of Environmental Law, co-written with Kenworthey Bilz, was recently published by NYU Press. Rowell begins by explaining why, despite the interdisciplinary nature of environmental law, psychology has not, to this point, had the effect on environmental law that it could and should have. She goes on to explain how and why environmental law and policy, in particular, need to be considered from a psychological perspective. This relates to the specific kinds of injuries that are suffered in the environmental law context, with Rowell explaining that environmental injuries are diffuse, complex and difficult to process, and often non-human character. This combination of factors means that it can be difficult for people to attach emotion and value to environmental injuries (1:15 – 8:02). Delving into more detail of these factors, Rowell first addresses the non-human character of environmental injury, with a focus on how this interacts with economic theories of preferences. She also weighs in on whether the public’s reflective preferences should drive environmental reform, and more broader sociological factors that can influence environmental policy (8:20 – 23:27). Rowell then speaks about the psychology of how people engage with various environmental issues, such as pollution and the natural/man-made dichotomy. To illustrate her point, Rowell relates a couple of anecdotes from her book, including one about the Mount Tabor reservoir in Portland, Oregon (23:55 – 32:28). The conversation then segues into an in-depth discussion of particulate matter air pollution, wildfire management, and the changing public perception of wildfires generally. Rowell explains that this fits into a broader discussion regarding the shift in public preference from the artificial to the natural, and how risk perception is changing in response to this shift (32:35 – 43:39). Rowell then explains how this information can be used to shape policy in order to better address actual, rather than perceived, risks. She also discusses the role moral disengagement plays in shaping environmental policy and people’s view of climate change. (43:52 – 53:32). The conversation concludes with a consideration of the effect of in-group/out-group psychology on our understanding of environmental harm, how this relates to rising nationalism across the globe, and whether a nationalistic environmental policy is sustainable long-term (53:37 – 1:01:00). Professor Michael Livermore is the Edward F. Howrey Professor of Law at the University of Virginia School of Law. He is also the Director of the Program in Law, Communities and the Environment (PLACE), an interdisciplinary program based at UVA Law that examines the intersection of legal, environmental, and social concerns.
More episodes
Clear search
Close search
Google apps
Main menu