Conventional environmentalist thought is suspicious of private markets and property rights. The prospect of global climate change, and consequent ecological disruptions, has fueled the call for additional limitations on private markets and property rights. This essay, written for the Environmental Law Symposium on 21st Century Water Law, presents an alternative view. Specifically, this essay briefly explains why environmental problems generally, and the prospect of changing environmental conditions such as those brought about by climate change in particular, do not counsel further restrictions on private property rights and markets. To the contrary, the prospect of significant environmental changes strengthens the case for greater reliance on property rights and market institutions to address environmental problems, such as the management of fresh water resources.


environmental protection, markets, property rights, the commons, conservation, water rights, water markets, climate change, global warming, climate adaptation

Publication Date


Document Type


Place of Original Publication

Environmental Law

Publication Information

42 Environmental Law 93 (2012)


COinS Jonathan H. Adler Faculty Bio