11 Pages

‘Air rights’

ByHelen Mallinson

Cuius est solum, eius est usque ad coelum et ad inferos (to whoever owns

the land, it is theirs up to the sky and down to the depths).1

This chapter sets out to reverse expectations. It is not about the rights we possess over

the air (by which we generally mean space qua real estate; though we might nominate

some other resource), but the rights possessed by air. The case can be argued through

the notion of ‘agency’. Rights accrue to agents and agencies that define and circum-

scribe their powers to act or be acted upon. The proposition here requires imagining the

air not only as an active agent, but also as a moral agent. Least credible of all, the case

requires we imagine that the air might think; that we are the progeny of ‘thinking air’.