The Rights of Nature Movement is Gaining Ground!

I have always thought of the Rights of Nature movement requiring shovels and hardhats and planting trees and fending off helicopters from chasing wild horses and things like that. Maybe getting arrested for defending prairie dogs.

Recently the GARN (Global Alliance for the Rights of Nature) organization met in Italy to get input on the “constitution” they are proposing. I was part of this…even though I wasn’t in Italy. Dang it. I didn’t know about the event until the day before it happened. However, I did tune in via ZOOM and my cell phone.

As I’ve previously mentioned, my attention is slowly fading from actively publishing to adopting the Rights of Nature movement. This is quite a challenge since there is no established “HUB” for the Rights of Nature here in North America even though GARN said there was. No matter. I decided to start my own ‘hub.” I hoped this attempt would be more successful than the “JUST ONE THING” movement my staff and I tried half-assedly to launch.

“Saving Our Oceans” was my biggest attempt to promote the Rights of Nature and I got so discouraged I took the book out of circulation.

So imagine my excitement when I quite by accident flipped the TV channel a week ago and landed on a 60 Minutes segment that was doing a feature piece on a fantastic movement in Montana designed to “return nature to nature.” The American Prairie organization is buying property as it becomes available to foster the return of bison, deer, bears, wolves – basically all animals – that used to roam freely in the area by “rewilding” the area. Their intent is to have a space of land that is 5000 square miles in size…roughly 3.2 million acres.

The organization is working with “Nonprofits, Indigenous Communities, neighbors, local communities, federal and state land managers and prairie enthusiasts from around the globe.” I urge you to check this out. Https://

However, after I mailed my check to American Prairie, I came to realize that I have in fact been very involved in the Rights of Nature movement – I just wasn’t really conscious of it until the American Prairie had my attention. I have always thought of the Rights of Nature movement requiring shovels and hardhats and planting trees and fending off helicopters from chasing wild horses and things like that. Maybe getting arrested for defending prairie dogs.

For starters, the Save Our Wild Salmon Alliance has long held my attention, interest, and donations. I also write letters to officials as requested basically asking them to get off their asses and do something helpful for the diminishing native king salmon population.

I went to the effort to become a Certified Marine Naturalist to work with the Whale Museum (and whales). I have also closely followed and donated to the NRDC (Nature Resource Defense Counsel). And I’ve promoted the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund (CELDEF) which is an organization that helps communities take on big biz and the govt. to stop developments that destroy natural resources and nature in general. I just never thought of these activities as being a type of Rights of Nature activity. So now I don’t feel like I’m just spinning my wheels anymore!

Basically, while there may be no official “hub” for the Rights of Nature yet in North America, I can see that a lot of people besides me actually care and support the Rights of Nature movement but just don’t know that’s what they’re doing.

Saving Our Oceans to be Released May 15

orca photo

Just in the nick of time for summer reading, Saving Our Oceans will be released May 15. It will likely appear on Amazon a short time after that, or the book can be ordered from Moonlight Mesa Associates. You can email us here to get your signed copy.

Here’s a sneak preview:

How is it possible that the most intellectual creature to ever walk the earth is destroying its only home?

Jane Goodall

Introduction: Transformation

What began as a simple idea for a book about ocean and plastic pollution grew seriously sidetracked. In the process of researching this issue, it became very clear that ocean pollution is intricately connected to the rivers, land, and air that generously shed their pollutants into the ocean. It’s estimated that 70 to 80 percent of the ocean’s plastic pollution comes from fresh water sources. And a mountain of evidence indicates that freshwater pollution, including drinking water that originates from rivers and aquifers, is stored in reservoirs, or is even captured as rainfall, is a much more acute problem than most people realize. It appears that there may not be any bodies of water at all that do not have plastic/toxic pollution issues, some obviously worse than others. This then accounts for the inclusion of a chapter on fresh water pollution which expanded to a chapter on potential water shortages and water wars. While some of this country is drowning in water, other parts are parched. This is true worldwide also.

Plastic pollution, both land and ocean, offered an invitation to take a closer look at the promise and disappointment of recycling. What can we do with the plastic we’re drowning in? Several possibilities are presented, but nothing yet seems to be a sure thing, although there is hope despite endless controversy on the subject.

And how can one write about ocean plastic pollution without including many people’s favorite mammal – the whale. In late 2018 a dead whale washed ashore. One can pretty much name any country where this happened, as whales have been turning up dead in what seems record numbers around the world. The necropsy revealed the whale had ingested 114 plastic bags along with flip flops, plastic cups, and other plastic debris. This shocking occurrence should have been enough to rouse the public’s ire and the plastic producers’ repentance for their prolific adulteration of the earth with their product, but it didn’t. It’s horrifying to consider the possibility that this whale represents the norm, not the exception. This, of course, brings up the dismaying situation of Washington State’s beloved Southern Resident Pod of orcas who, in addition to suffering from malnutrition, like orcas worldwide are also filled with toxins generated by PCBs and other products dumped years ago (and some fairly recently).

The whale issue is also complicated by the nations that continue to slaughter mammals who have been scientifically proven to be extraordinarily intelligent – who live in matriarchal pods for decades, who communicate and navigate with advanced sonar and oral abilities, and who, in fact, can feel pain and are self-aware. Did I mention the criminal captivity of whales? Did I mention the millions of seabirds who die every year because of plastic ingestion? What about those turtles? And the ocean inhabitants trapped in discarded nets?

By now we know that plastic does not “go away.” But it doesn’t stop with plastic. Biological waste, fertilizer runoff, and even animal excrement travel through river systems to the ocean. The items you may unthinkingly be dumping down your drain flow into a sewer system and can eventually make their way to the sea.

Finally, the “Rights of Nature” briefly found its way into this book. The Rights of Nature seems to be a movement that is not well known in this country yet. The United States, now seemingly run by lobbyists and corporations, has been resistant to adopting the philosophy that nature has rights just as much as people. Animals in general have been granted some rights, but nature itself is on its own and subject to demolition, pillage, and destruction by owners and developers. There are countries, however, like Ecuador, Bolivia, New Zealand, India and some European countries that agree with this right. Ecuador adopted the Right of Nature into their constitution in 2008: first nation to do so.

I am not a scientist, a marine biologist, or any other highly skilled, scientifically oriented person. I have two degrees but am not particularly smarter for it. I ride a mule. I hike. I row. I like to paint. I also own a micro-sized publishing house that up until now has specialized in western publications, both fiction and nonfiction (western as in cowboy up). I have published award-winning titles, and sometimes I self-publish a book, like this one.

Born and raised in the Pacific Northwest, a former sailor, I am one acquainted with blue water sailing, having traveled around 25,000 miles on a 34’ Cal 2-34 back in the day when people navigated using a sextant and dead-reckoning. I’ve  been acquainted with the ocean’s moods and have a respect that at times feels much more like fear. I’ve traveled the Inside Passage to Alaska, and I’ve seen a plethora of whales in my journeys. But like many others, I’ve felt stymied in trying to help remedy the dire situation facing the ocean, whales, and other sea life. I’ve fretted about these issues, chagrined at my lack of involvement. Although I’ve donated money to worthy causes, hoping my meager funds could help better these challenges, donating does not bring the same satisfaction as doing.

Then one day, when I was on my little tugboat in the Northwest enjoying my summer escape from Arizona’s heat, the death of a baby orca and the protracted grief and anguish of its mother struck a sense of sorrow I couldn’t escape. Rather than silently mourn and carry depression around, I resolved to take action of some sort – and this book is one piece of the action plan I devised. My plan is still evolving, and I’ve also included a bit of this in Saving Our Oceans, as well as simple, likely already well-known ideas for those who’d like to do something about the calamity unfolding on the planet. I still haven’t decided if my evolving ideas are audacious or just genuinely bone-headed, but for two years I’ve been wanting to move forward on a new path with my small publishing company, but I just didn’t know what or where or how. Until now.

Should you regret having purchased this book, try to mollify yourself with the thought that the net proceeds from the sale of this title will be donated to a worthy cause, such as The Orca Conservancy, The Ocean Foundation, and the Save Our Wild Salmon organization.

I know these organizations will be very grateful for your support, and I sincerely thank you.


R.L. (Becky) Coffield


It’s Time to Enact the Rights of Nature

3167e-SOOpc2B2BjpegRecent headlines forewarned that two more Southern Resident orcas appear to be dying of malnutrition. That will leave the pod ever closer to extinction with only 72 whales remaining. It’s way past time for this government, for every government in the world, to enact the “Rights of Nature.”

“Rights of Nature is the recognition and honoring that Nature has rights. It is the recognition that our ecosystems – including trees, oceans, animals, mountains – have rights just as human beings have rights. Rights of Nature is about balancing what is good for human beings against what is good for other species, what is good for the planet as a world. It is the holistic recognition that all life, all ecosystems on our planet are deeply intertwined” (

“It’s Likely There Aren’t More Than 411 Right Whales Left, New Estimate Finds.” Headlines like this are dismaying. According to WBUR News, “The calculation is based on a trove of statistical data, observations of individual animals and a wave of observed mortalities, with no newborn whales observed in the most recent calving season.” The cause of this decline appears to be the gear used by Maine lobstermen that entangles the whales.

Let’s not overlook the whale that washed ashore in eastern Indonesia with approximately 115 plastic cups, flip flops and plastic bags in its stomach.

The number of dead whales is increasing in most areas of the world. Even Scotland and Ireland had an “Unprecedented Number of Dead Whales” (Cuvier’s beaked whales) wash up on their shores. Scientists say that the 80 dead whales might actually indicate that up to 1,000 of the Cuvier’s beaked whales actually died.

The Cuvier beaked whale is a deep diver, going as low as 9500 feet for up to two hours to hunt for food. This particular whale is very sensitive to loud sounds, and it’s speculated that anti-submarine sonar caused such intense pain to the whales that they surfaced too quickly. “Anti-submarine sonar isn’t used by Irish warships, but it is used by the U.S. Navy and by Britain’s navy,” Simon Berrow, a marine biologist said. Not surprisingly, neither group admits to being in the area using anti-submarine sonar.

For some reason, nearly 200 pilot whales died after stranding on a New Zealand beach. 149 died one day with another 50 the following day. Strandings apparently are a common phenomenon on New Zealand shores, according to “Up to 145 Pilot Whales Dead After Mass stranding on New Zealand Beach.” What causes these strandings? Pollution? Military sonar? Submarine activity? Warmer water?

“Torture of Russian whale jail as 100 Orcas and Belugas captured in Pacific Bay,” a dismaying article in The Telegraph by Alex Luhn felt like a slap in the face. I thought the crime of capturing whales for aquariums was over. Apparently not when the Chinese are in the market.

In 2018, 100 orca and beluga whales were (and possibly still are) being illegally held in a bay near Nakhodka in Russia and were/are to be  sold to the Chinese for their booming ocean theme park industry in China. There are already over 60 marine parks in China, according to Alec Luhn of Moscow for The Telegraph (British paper).  The Chinese plan for at least a dozen more ocean parks.

Supposedly Russia is investigating this, but Russia is also believed to be the only country that exports orcas captured in the wild, according to Luhn.

Since the “jail” is quite small, this suggests that many of the captured orcas are babies. Other reports say the whales are being tortured. For every orca captured, however, at least another is killed in the process. Jailers don’t seem to care since an orca can fetch up to $6 million dollars. This activity flies in the face of the 1982 moratorium against whaling: the only whaling allowed is for scientific purposes (that sounds quite lame) or for those with aboriginal “cultural” needs (another fairly lame sounding excuse taken advantage of by the Japanese who have killed over 1,000,000 whales and dolphins).

“Catching them at this tempo, we risk losing our entire orca population,” according to Oganes Targulyan, a Greenpeace Russia research coordinator.

And now the Japanese are on the hunt again. Their past history of whaling does not inspire trust or confidence. But the Japanese are certainly not the only ones to decimate aquatic populations. Unsustainable fishing practices are now the bane of the oceans. Just this week a blue fine tuna, a threatened species, sold for $3,000,000 for sushi! As the population grows, the population of fish diminishes.

In September of 2008 Ecuador became the first country in the world to recognize rights for nature in its constitution. Bolivia is in the process of implementing laws that also recognize certain rights for nature. More than two dozen communities in the U.S. have adopted laws that recognize the rights of nature. The first major municipality to do so was the City of Pittsburgh in 2010.

It’s time.

(Material in this blog is from Saving Our Oceans. Release date is May 2019.)