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Foreword: Environmental Law and the Changing Data Paradigm

Mar 26, 2020

Jordan Diamond

Volume 44 (2017) - Issue 1

I am honored to introduce Ecology Law Quarterly’s special issue on environmental governance and technology. This dedicated volume focuses on the tension between rapidly advancing data technology and slower-moving law and policy adaptation. This issue could not come at a more important time, as we are in the midst of a historic transformation of our data capacities. Environmental law is a heavily data-dependent field, and alterations in the scale and scope of available information can cause reverberations throughout.

Environmental law has long struggled with the challenges of trying to govern in the face of uncertainty. Effectively managing natural resources requires extensive knowledge of the status, conditions, and trends of the resource in question, and we frequently do not have sufficient information to be certain of these parameters. Thus we have developed models, analogs, and other analytical tools that make the best of what information we have. The result has been countless debates about what constitutes best available information in data-poor conditions.