Earth System Law and Outer Space
Welcome to our lunch seminar with presentation by Dr. Elena Cirkovic, Helsinki University.
Open for all interested. Please register your participation.
With the increasing environmental degradation in spaces most affected by climate change, such as the Arctic, and the extension of human-caused environmental problems even into the Earth’s orbit, international law is battling with some unprecedented challenges.
From a legal perspective, the law must address the legal consequences of unprecedented environmental impacts of human activities on a planetary scale. One aspect of this new phenomenon is the question of how to account for processes such as greenhouse gases and increased orbital debris, and their agency beyond human control. Anything that makes a difference to other actors is an agent. Much of the scholarly discussion surrounding this question is taking place in the abstract, such that there are no exact proposals for methodological and practical applications in lawmaking. In this article, I argue that current governance relevant to the Arctic and outer space precedes a full understanding of these spaces. I propose a new approach and method of lawmaking, under a broad term of cosmolegal. Cosmolegal proposal challenges distinctions between scientific and social laws and it questions the foundational determination of both. The cosmolegal method would serve to recognize the capacity of the non-human, including objects such as gases or rocks, to have agency. The framework I suggest in this article, therefore, requires accuracy in lawmaking, which could be achieved by greater interdisciplinarity and acceptance of other ontologies, such as indigenous peoples’ knowledge.