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If the Tide is Rising, Who Pays for the Ark?

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Sea-level rise driven by the effects of greenhouse gas emissions is already driving significant and costly impacts to public and private coastal property owners, with future impacts likely to be immense. We examine legal frameworks in which remedies for these impacts and costs may be addressed. Our analysis focuses on remedies available through application of the common law concepts of nuisance and trespass. We argue that the common law provides mechanisms for restraining future impacts while assigning responsibility for real costs for receptors of these impacts to the generators of the causative pollutants.

Keywords: common law; externality; greenhouse gases; sea-level rise; trespass

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: Environmental Studies, UNC Wilmington, Wilmington, North Carolina 2: Biology and Marine Biology, UNC Wilmington, Wilmington, North Carolina

Publication date: 2011-05-01

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