The Rights of Nature Movement is Growing!

Despite our obsession with the slaughter and captivity of whales and dolphins, there are some growing bright spots on the horizon! Here at Moonlight Mesa Associates we’ve agreed to stop obsessing about captive whales and focus on the bigger picture. Plenty of other people are focusing on whales and dolphins. The four of us aren’t going to be missed. The Rights of Nature movement needs support and obsessing over too.

rights of nature poster    Essentially, the idea of the Rights of Nature arose in the “western” world around 1972, although indigenous citizens in many countries have pretty much always recognized and respected the rights of nature. However, in 1989 Professor Roderick Nash published the Rights of Nature: A History of Environmental Ethics which really began the ball slowly rolling.

The fact is, and it’s a happy fact, the Rights of Nature is being increasingly recognized worldwide. Just this past week, Sweden introduced a Rights of Nature Constitutional Amendment in their parliament.

Parliament member Le Moine succinctly made it clear when he said,  “The underlying value in our society is that we are the dominators of this world and Nature is just a resource for us to use. Economic growth has been the real goal, not a healthy environment. I’m tired of this era, where our arrogant worldview has driven us far beyond the planetary boundaries. Now, when we’re in the beginning of an ecological and climate collapse, I hope we can re-think our relationship with Nature. And for me, it starts with admitting that Nature has rights.”

Mari Margil of CELDF (Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund) stated: “We need to quickly make a fundamental shift in our relationship with the natural world. Advancing the Rights of Nature in Sweden’s constitution is an important step forward.”

These exact words could/should have been said in the United States Congress, the British Parliament, and any number of countries. Unfortunately, it will likely be decades before words of this kind are uttered in the U.S. Congress, but there’s always hope!

rights of nature campaignSweden will be joining Ecuador, Columbia, Bolivia, India, New Zealand and a host of other countries who have come to their senses and realized that some things (nature) are just more important than amassing untold amounts of money and multiple private estates.

Citizens of the United States are taking action even if the federal government here isn’t. I think I already mentioned about the citizens in Lincoln County, Oregon, who adopted a first-in-nation ban of aerial pesticide spraying. Despite a staggering campaign war chest of $300,000 raised by timber and chemical corporations, Lincoln County fought back with $16,000 and won their measure.

 Pennsylvania  is introducing a constitutional amendment called the “local Self-Government Amendment” which places the rights of people over the interests of private corporations and empowers communities to heighten state protections for civil, human, and ecosystem rights. This is in an effort to protect themselves from environmental and personal harm. Pittsburgh has already waded into this swamp and defended themselves against sludge, fracking, and a host of harmful corporate projects.

In Florida laws are being proposed in each county through the citizens’ ballot initiative process. In addition to protecting the Rights of Nature, the laws would recognize rights of local residents to a healthy environment and clean water.

Photo by NRDC.ORG

    Toledo, Ohio, however, passed a ballot initiative that gave Lake Erie and those who rely on the lake’s ecosystem a bill of rights. The intent is to protect and preserve “the ecosystem so that the life that depends on it – humans included – can have access to safe, fresh drinking water.” This certainly seems like a reasonable initiative, yet big business (in this case the Farm Bureau) had a stop put to this. The State of Iowa is supporting the farmers in a lawsuit against the city. Toledoans for Safer Water were told, by a judge no less, that they “cannot defend the voter-passed initiative in a lawsuit brought by a factory farm against the city over the initiative.”

Gig Harbor, Washington, formed a movement, Legal Rights for the Salish Sea,  to help protect endangered orcas and the Salish Sea.

Overall, small movements in this country are arising. Many have the backing and assistance of CELDF and are becoming victorious. Check CELDF out on the web, please!

For a full account of the timeline of Rights of Nature, visit https://celdf.org/advancing-community-rights/rights-of-nature/rights-nature-timeline/.

david boyd bookI can also recommend The Rights of Nature, by David R. Boyd. This is an excellent book and clearly explains what this movement entails and is all about.

Basically, we’ve come to the conclusion that we need to do much more than fret about the beloved Southern Resident Pod and the Humpbacks dying around the globe. The planet itself is at stake. And yes, small efforts add up!

What can  YOU do to help this movement? Stay tuned. We’re going to get to that.

 

Rights of Nature Gaining Ground

nrdc.org

     It appears that the Rights of Nature movement is finally, ever-so-slowly making progress in this country. There are a number of countries such as Ecuador, Bolivia, New Zealand, India, and some European countries who embrace the concept of the Rights of Nature and have enacted laws establishing those rights. Ecuador went so far as to add the Rights of Nature to their constitution. Not the U.S.

 

Periodically one can find an article (usually well hidden) about the success of communities enforcing the Rights of Nature, often with the help of the Community Environment Legal Defense Fund (CELDF). Now before signing off, CELDF simply believes that nature should not be polluted, despoiled or ransacked, and that people have the right to clean air, water and a healthy environment. Is this too much to ask? Citizens should have more say about their communities than corporations.

 

 Lincoln County, Oregon, successfully adopted the first-in-nation ban on aerial pesticides, elevating “community rights” over “corporate rights.” The community’s win took place “despite campaign contributions from timber and chemical corporations who spent nearly $300,000 to defeat the measure.” Residents fought back with $16,000. CELDF is preparing for a lawsuit expecting that industry will want to overturn the will of the citizens.

 

Five counties in Florida have filed to preserve nature and drinking water by granting legal rights to their rivers. Florida is following the lead of the Lake Erie Bill of Rights passed in February 2019.

 

The Rights of Nature movement is slowly growing in this country even though this idea is well established elsewhere. For example, “Bangladesh became the first country to grant all of its rivers the same legal status as humans.” The Bangladesh Supreme Court ruled that the rule is meant “to protect the world’s largest delta from further degradation from pollution, illegal dredging and human intrusion.”

 

oiled bird   The Rights of Nature basically asks that we (all nations) treat our environment and its inhabitants (which includes mammals, fish, fowl and any other kind of critters) respectfully and stop raping, pillaging and destroying the environment. A growing number of people are fed up with a “corporate-run American that focuses on profiteering at the expense of the environment and its citizens.

 

To learn more about the Rights of Nature, I urge you to read The Rights of Nature by David R. Boyd.

 

Slaughtering whales is a “cultural” activity the Faroe Islanders claim. (Photo by Blue Planet Society)