Thursday, 13 August 2020
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Hi Everyone

About a month ago, Adam Thyer made a post about whether ecocide should be crime. Personally, I believe that ecocide is one of the worst things that humanity can do, so of course it should be illegal.

But what about the smaller assaults on nature that individually would not be regarded as ecocide, but collectively have the same outcome? These smaller crimes would presumably not fall within the definition of "ecocide". Thankfully, there is a movement trying to give nature similar rights to human beings. The Global Alliance for Nature Rights is one of the organisations trying to make this happen. The following is an extract from their website:

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.

Rather than treating nature as property under the law, rights of nature acknowledges that nature in all its life forms has the right to exist, persist, maintain and regenerate its vital cycles.

And we – the people – have the legal authority and responsibility to enforce these rights on behalf of ecosystems. The ecosystem itself can be named as the injured party, with its own legal standing rights, in cases alleging rights violations.

For indigenous cultures around the world recognizing rights of nature is simply what is so and consistent with their traditions of living in harmony with nature. All life, including human life, are deeply connected. Decisions and values are based on what is good for the whole.

Nonetheless, for millennia legal systems around the world have treated land and nature as “property”. Laws and contracts are written to protect the property rights of individuals, corporations and other legal entities. As such environmental protection laws actually legalize environmental harm by regulating how much pollution or destruction of nature can occur within the law. Under such law, nature and all of its non-human elements have no standing.

By recognizing rights of nature in its constitution, Ecuador – and a growing number of communities in the United States – are basing their environmental protection systems on the premise that nature has inalienable rights, just as humans do. This premise is a radical but natural departure from the assumption that nature is property under the law.

I think that recognising the rights of nature would be a fabulous thing. It would not only provide legal recourse when the environment is assaulted, but also potentially transform the way that we think about nature.

I would love to hear your thoughts on this topic!
more than a month ago
Hi Jane,

This is a no brainer. We should take any and all actions that end up protecting nature, ecosystems and everything nature, as our very existence and the life as we know it depends on that. Correction: our children's existence and life as we know it.
If that means, among other things, providing nature with a legal persona, with enforceable rights and privileges, well that's what it means.
As an idea it is absolutely great. To convert it to action, governments need to get on board with the concept first, and that might just be an issue of achieving critical mass in the general population... so advertising to begin with.
Once the action is enacted, and nature now is a legal entity with rights and privileges, it becomes a matter of enforcing the law... as nature cannot do it for itself. Getting down to the detail it raises questions as who has the rights to act on behalf of nature, what kind of penalties are there, who cashes the benefits and who pays as a result of potential legal action, etc.? All of these of course, would be detailed in the respective law... which will be country specific and therefore fragmented over the world.

It still leaves open to question what happens in the spaces that are not within the boundaries of any country: how would one trigger legal action against Japan for whaling in the Antarctic waters for example? Who would do it and where? What authority would that body have over Japan? Who could enforce action against US or China for example? BP, Shell, Rio Tinto or any other multinational for that matter? What if a country or a company simply pays up and continues with the destructive practice?

As an idea, it is amazing. It is even encouraging to see places like Ecuador setting an example. Any action, no matter how small, is better than no action. But here, much like in any global issue, critical mass is required, cooperation at the international level, creating and supporting entities with enforceable authority, willingness and consensus.

The polemic is driven by big money behind the "science" that challenges global warming and ecosystem collapse. The global leadership is MIA (Trump? Xi Jiping? Putin? Bolsonaro? Boris Johnson even? really?) The name of the game today is divide not unite.

So it comes down to small positive steps taken by everyone who can take them, creating synergy in every opportunity, wherever possible, and hoping that this is just a phase and that the global leadership (both political and business) will wake up to the signs, will come together and act in time to prevent catastrophic outcomes.

Real education is key! But the oppressive regimes that tend to get stronger around the world every day put up a sustained assault against it. So it is up to us really...

And once again, yes, it is a great step to start by giving nature a legal persona, rights and privileges.

Kind regards,
more than a month ago
I agree with Adrian that this is a no brainer. We need to acknowledge both socially and legally that we are part of nature and our futures are inextricably linked. When we harm the environment, we are jeopardising the future viability of humanity. As a society, we have long criminalised acts that go against the well-being of our communities. There is abundant evidence that the damage we're doing is not just an ethical issue, but an existential threat. We should therefore be using the law to discourage organisations and individuals from harming nature. Giving nature legal rights would be an enormous step in the right direction. We also need to change the way we think about the natural world.

Adam Thyer, Founder at GreenExecutive

more than a month ago
Hi Jane

I like this idea very much and hope that it will happen. However, many powerful companies will oppose this idea because they make lot of money from ruthlessly exploiting nature.
more than a month ago
A Canadian river has been granted rights and legal "personhood":

Adam Thyer, Founder at GreenExecutive

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