Unnatural Law
488 pages, 6 x 9
4 b&w photos, 4 tables
Release Date:15 Aug 2003
Release Date:15 Aug 2003
Release Date:01 Oct 2007

Unnatural Law

Rethinking Canadian Environmental Law and Policy

SERIES: Law and Society
UBC Press

While governments assert that Canada is a world leader in sustainability, Unnatural Law provides extensive evidence to refute this claim. A comprehensive assessment of the strengths and weaknesses of Canadian environmental law, the book provides a balanced, critical examination of Canada’s record, focusing on laws and policies intended to protect water, air, land, and biodiversity.

Three decades of environmental laws have produced progress in a number of important areas, such as ozone depletion, protected areas, and some kinds of air and water pollution. However, Canada’s overall record remains poor. In this vital and timely study, David Boyd explores the reasons why some laws and policies foster progress while others fail. He ultimately concludes that the root cause of environmental degradation in industrialized nations is excessive consumption of resources. Unnatural Law outlines the innovative changes in laws and policies that Canada must implement in order to respond to the ecological imperative of living within the Earth’s limits.

The struggle for a sustainable future is one of the most daunting challenges facing humanity in the 21st century. Everyone – academics, lawyers, students, policy-makers, and concerned citizens – interested in the health of the Canadian and global environments will find Unnatural Law an invaluable source of information and insight. For more information on Unnatural Law visit David Boyd's site, www.unnaturallaw.com.


  • 2004, Shortlisted - Donald Smiley Book Prize, Canadian Political Science Association
  • 2005, Shortlisted - Walter Owen Book Prize, Foundation for Legal Research
  • 2004, Winner - Book of the Year (Environment), Canadian Geographic Magazine
David R. Boyd is an environmental lawyer, professor, and former executive director of the Sierra Legal Defence Fund. He is the editor of Northern Wild: Best Contemporary Canadian Nature Writing, and lives on Pender Island, BC.

Foreword by Thomas R. Berger, O.C., Q.C.

Preface and Acknowledgments


Part One: Examination

1. Canada’s Environmental Record

2. Water

2.1. Drinking Water

2.2. Water Pollution

2.3. Water Use and Conservation

2.4. Water Exports

3. Air

3.1. Ozone Depletion

3.2. Climate Change

3.3. Air Pollution

4. Land

4.1. Pesticide Regulation

4.2. Forest Management

4.3. Environmental Assessment

5. Biodiversity

5.1. Parks and Protected Areas

5.2. Endangered Species

5.3. Marine Biodiversity

Part Two: Diagnosis

6. The Strengths and Weaknesses of Canadian Environmental Law and Policy

7. Reasons for Environmental Progress

8. Systemic Weaknesses

9. Obstacles to Further Progress

10. Root Causes of Environmental Degradation

Part Three: Prescription

11. New Directions for Canadian Environmental Law and Policy

12. A New Role Model for Canada

13. Reducing Consumption

14. Population Growth and Sustainable Development

15. Conclusion




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