Michael Burger


In this Essay, I make a preliminary foray into this new narrative terrain, identifying several emerging legal storylines that have arisen in the wake of climate change disruptions and that I predict will prove influential in the coming years. In Part I, I discuss the ways in which new perceptions of scale are re-defining human beings’ attachments to a sense of “place” or “dwelling” and are shaping new attitudes about what constitutes the local, posing potential problems for existing federalism schemes. In Part II, I discuss the ways in which America’s long history of nationalizing nature manifests in the discourse surrounding energy security, energy independence, and the “green economy”—a discourse which has quickly come into conflict with existing place-based preservationist storylines. In Part III, I discuss the ways in which climate change adaptation can produce a reimagining of nature and culture as a kind of cyborg, perhaps demanding reassessment of existing environmentalist attachments, such as those encoded in the Endangered Species Act. I conclude by noting that although some of these new storylines share common origins in the Recovery Narrative, they also reflect important updates, changes, and innovations and may point in the direction of even more radical transformations that can shape our environmental future.