“Nature’s Trust”, a talk with the author, Professor Mary Wood

With evidence mounting that climate change is severe, pervasive and perhaps irreversible, why is society not responding as if it were preparing for war?  Professor Mary Wood says it’s because we assume that environmental law will protect us. But unlike many other facets of society that are innovating in anticipation of a changed climate they accept is on the way, the law is not. 

Statutory Law, she says, has developed into a permitting system with regulatory agencies subject to political pressures that compromise their responsibility to safeguard the public’s “inherent, indivisible and inviolate right” to a safe environment. What’s needed, she argues, is restoration of the centuries-old property concept of trust: management of a resource by one party for another party, as wealth that is supposed to endure from one generation to another.   In this talk at the Yale Law School she discusses the recent Robinson decision by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court as an example of a recent court ruling that explicitly recognizes the doctrine.


Mary Wood is the Founder of the University of Oregon Natural Resources Law Program, Her many projects include leading the Conservation Trust Project, the Sustainable Land Use Project, The Native American Sovereignty Project and Food Resilience Project the University of Oregon and work on behalf of Our Children’s Trust, an organization which works with James Hanson and others to bring suit against governments around the world on behalf of climate change action.

September 1, 2014