Professor Ben Richardson presents 'Time and Environmental Law'

Disciplined by industrial clock time, modern life distances people from nature’s biorhythms such as its ecological, evolutionary, and climatic processes. The law is complicit in numerous ways. It compresses time through ‘fast-track’ legislation and accelerated resource exploitation. It suffers from temporal inertia, such as ‘grandfathering’ existing activities that limits the law’s responsiveness to changing circumstances. Insouciance about past ecological damage, and neglect of its restoration, are equally serious temporal flaws: we cannot live sustainably while Earth remains degraded and unrepaired.

This presentation explores how to align law with the ecological ‘timescape’ and enable humankind to ‘tell nature’s time’. Lending insight into environmental behaviour and impacts, it pioneers a new understanding of environmental law for all societies, and makes recommendations for its reform. Minding nature, not the clock, requires regenerating Earth, adapting to its changes, and living more slowly.