The central claim of this book is that a right of every individual to an environment adequate for their health and well-being should receive express provision in the constitution of any modern democratic state. This claim is to be defended against six general lines of criticism which will be outlined in the latter part of this Introduction. First, though, the general background and rationale for the claim will be sketched out.
The argument of this book has developed out of research guided by the initial, tentatively formulated question, 'would constitutional environmental rights be a good idea?' The question arose on the basis of two quite general thoughts: first, that environmental protection is sufficiently important to warrant the provision of guarantees for it at the highest political level, which for practical purposes means the constitutional; second, that because environmental protection is equally important for everyone, and for reasons which transcend the particular terms of any actual political association, it ought to be considered a human right. Combining these thoughts suggests a general case in favour of constitutional recognition of a fundamental right to an adequate environment. As I shall shortly explain, though, there are significant differences between suggesting there is a case and actually explicating and defending such a case.