Literary Resources for Environmental Law Research

Author: Susan Good

Writing papers and notes for law school is a daunting task. Many times the topic and its development are solely determined by the author. Such freedom to shape research and a final paper can lead to feeling overwhelmed and aimless. When I feel as though I‘m drowning in statutory codes or unembellished case law, I often look to literary and historical texts for inspiration. Such non-legal scholarship enriches the study of law and can be a catalyst for understanding the con-tent of the law and the climate and context of specific law‘s genesis.

Environmental law provides an ideal example where familiarity with historical and literary texts enhances a mastery of the law. Rachel Carson‘s Silent Spring is an example of how literature can impact the legislative process. Her 1961 exposé on the affect of synthetic pesticides used in agri-culture is frequently cited as a major impetus in some of the most comprehensive environmental legislation to date. With an understanding of how important non-traditional legal texts can be for legal studies and writing, I am always looking for new books to supplement my legal research.

Last semester I was introduced to two texts that I am eager to share with you. In 2008, Harper-Collins released The Green Bible, an issuance of the New Revised Standard Version of the Bible with a focus on scriptural pro-environmentalism. Modeling after the traditional red-letter Bibles that put Jesus‘ words in red print, The Green Bible puts all environmental references in green print. This text proved to be an excellent source for a paper where I was chronicling the potential spiritual origins of man‘s guardianship over the environment. By accentuating scripture with environ-mental meaning, The Green Bible is an easily navigable source.

Another excellent text to supplement environ-mental legal research is American Earth: Environmental Writing Since Thoreau, a compilation of environmental classics edited by Bill McKibben. This book provides a comprehensive source for literary essays about the environment and conservation. Because the essays of this anthology are arranged chronologically, American Earth: Environmental Writing Since Thoreau may function as either a historical survey to be read as a whole or a reference tool capturing the environmental sentiment of any time period from the early 1800‘s to today.

If you are looking for some inspiration or to make your legal research multidimensional, these resources are highly recommended. The library has copies of both so check them out!

-Elizabeth Adams, 3L