What is Environmental Law?
Environmental law looks at all the factors that pertain to an economy and its production and industry to assess its impact on the environment and to propose regulations that will reduce environmental harm. It is mostly considered with regulations and treaty agreements between countries, corporations and public interest initiatives that work to promote the conservation of natural resources and to enhance energy efficiency.
According to Wikipedia,
“Environmental law – or “environmental and natural resources law” – is a collective term describing the network of treaties, statutes, regulations, and common and customary laws addressing the effects of human activity on the natural environment.”
Environmental law is necessary to combat issues related to the environment and conservation of natural resources. For instance – environmental laws pertains to issues like global warming, climate change, greenhouse gas emissions, acid rain, hunting of endangered species, deforestation, depletion of natural resources, pollution of water, air and soil.
In the United States, the chief government agency for administering environmental regulations is the Environmental Protection Agency. In most countries, states have their own environmental protection agencies that administer laws pertaining to issues of concern to the natural environment and to protect human health.
What is Involved in Measuring Environmental Law?
When researchers and monitors are assessing the environmental law of a person or community they are looking at how external elements are impacting the mental, emotional and physical health of the individual, and at large. They can come in to do assessments that are focused on decreasing epidemics or childhood morbidity, as well as to improve the overall preventative healthcare measures in the area. Environmental law regulations can extend to cover housing, transportation, food and water management as well. There is not one aspect of life that is not covered by environmental law as it recognizes the interrelation of all areas of economy and community on a person’s health state.
Components of Environmental Law
One of the major areas addressed by environmental law initiatives is waste management. This can take the form of helping to build or upgrade waste management systems to make sure that waste is not polluting ground water or causing the spread of disease. It can also take the form of managing radioactive waste materials. In areas of the world where industrialization is changing traditional community living, there may also have to be education programs done that demonstrate public health hygiene.
Food production is another area covered by environmental law. Regulations will concern everything from how seed is harvested and prepared to what types of fertilizer and pesticides are used to nurture the crops to maturity. They will also examine processing, packaging and storage facilities for food products to ensure that all ingredients are safe for human consumption and there is less risk for contamination or spoiled food. In some instance, environmental law may also address transportation needs for food as the infrastructure in some areas of the world may make it difficult to get adequate food supplies to the population.
Making sure that adequate drinking water, or potable water, is available to a community is another key issue with environmental law. Environmental law advocates will also look towards creating reserves of water that can be adequately protected from contamination. They don’t just look towards drinking and cooking water, but making sure there is adequate irrigation for crops as well.
Another aspect of water control is to make sure that proper drainage systems are in place. This has to do with the health concerns that can be caused by standing water and how it can promote the presence of disease carried by mosquitoes that can breed in standing water.
Pollution Control and Remediation
Environmental law is concerned with control of pollution on one hand and conservation of natural resources on other hand. It also have relevance to product design in the form of environmentally friendly materials, emission controls and energy efficient devices.
Flora and Fauna
Flora and fauna must be protected as they have been under constant threat by human activity. Environmental law may be enacted to protect biodiversity or as a special means for protecting species deemed important for other reasons. The need of the hour is to come up with new laws to protect endangered species from poachers, prohibition on killing or disruption of existing species and efforts to induce or support species recovery.
Environmental law also studies the impact of mining of natural resources from beneath the ground. The extraction of these minerals from the ground causes pollution in the air and water as chemicals come in contact of the environment. Mining also gets affected by various regulations regarding environmental impact of mining as well as health and safety of miners.
Emissions and Construction
Environmental law will also examine the condition and quality of housing and transportation in regards to its improvement and expansion. In recent times, an example of how environmental law helped to change and shape building policies is the focus on removing lead and asbestos from building. With transportation, it can become an issue of environmental law if a community is not served by public transportation or adequate infrastructure so they can reach the services and opportunities that exist around them. Also, the emissions regulations of transportation vehicles is also of concern.
Global Initiatives in Environmental Law
The United Nation is working to coordinate consistent environmental law applications by overseeing varies treaties and agreements between nations that will help to make sure that global efforts towards preserving the environment are effective. They oversee projects that involve everything from managing emissions controls to export and import restrictions, management of levels of known harmful substances and the development of environmental health programs.
One of the complicating factors about implementing global standards of environmental law is that so many developing countries need the existing, and polluting, manufacturing processes and may not have the financial ability to promote sustainable industries. By working together and gaining signatories for the environmental efforts, more can be done with the cooperation of developed countries to make sure that past mistakes are not repeated.