May 16, 2012

The Rights Of Nature

What enlightened environmental idea was described by one cranky blogger as "the latest tree hugging bollocks from a bunch of tofu-eating, sandal-wearing greens"? The not-so-radical idea of recognizing the Rights of Nature.

We respect the rights of nature when we balance what is good for us with what is best for other living things and the planet.

Ecosystems including trees, oceans, animals, and mountains have rights just as humans do. Nature in all its life forms has the right to exist, persist, and maintain/regenerate its vital cycles. We know it is not right to drive species, ecosystems, and planets to extinction in order to provide for our own guilty pleasures.

Corporations, and political institutions like Canada's current federal government, have declared a War on Nature, and the 'enemy' has no rights. Recognizing the rights of nature would end this war on the very life support system we rely on for our survival.

If we are to rectify our past mistakes, and restore nature that it might continue to provide for all of life in perpetuity, we are going to have to give up our wrongs, and replace them with rights.

We have the responsibility to enforce these rights, and have already started our unstoppable march toward the full liberation and protection of Nature. Some examples of our increased awareness of the rights and abilities of other creatures includes:
  • In January 2010, a team of scientists announced research results suggesting that dolphins are second in intelligence only to human beings, and should be regarded as "non-human persons." 
  • In January 2011, China banned use of animals in circuses. 
  • In 2011, the government in Catalonia, a region in Spain, passed a motion to outlaw bull fighting and it came into effect on January 1, 2012. 
  • In February 2012 Greece became the first European country to ban any animal from performing in any circus in its territory.
  • It is a well-known fact that elephants mourn their dead, but it appears that elephants can also detect and mourn the death of favoured humans.
T.H. Huxley, writing in the 1800s, opined that "no human being can arbitrarily dominate over another without grievous damage to his own nature."

"If this be true", he continued, "no slavery can be abolished without a double emancipation, and the master will benefit by freedom more than the freed-man."

So it will be for humanity when we finally admit that all life, including ecosystems, planets, and ultimately the Universe, possess rights. When we free the Earth from our limitless demands and exploitation, we will be freed ourselves to restore balance, and resume our cooperative niche in nature.

If you think this is just an idea for radical tofu-eating, sandal-wearing environmentalists, you are mistaken. Check out the countries of Ecuador and Bolivia, whose governments have already recognized the rights of nature in their constitutions.

Now, I'm off to hug a tree. And remember - dolphins are people, too.


  1. AnonymousMay 16, 2012

    When did our egos become so over inflated that we think we are the only species that matters? Or that destroying our planet for monetary gain is prudent? Why can't we see the inter-connectedness of the All?
    Now I'll go out and hug a tree as well, and talk to the birds while I'm at it.

    1. AnonymousMay 16, 2012

      After re-reading this comment, I realize that I sounded angry. Actually I'm encouraged by the measures (you've listed) to change the way we treat all beings. I do believe an awakening has begun.

    2. I didn't think you sounded angry - you asked questions that have to be asked. A little indignation can be a motivator.

      I agree that awakening is happening. We are moving past being outraged to work calmly and cooperatively on solutions.

      Each of us has great potential to do good. Hugging trees and talking to birds helps.

  2. Instead of mainstream science claiming an animal has intelligence based on how humans have it, would it not be easier to say that humans are animals rather than say certain animals are "non human persons"? Every creature has its sentience and intelligence and language (and I think personhood is overrated).

    1. Humans are animals? Oh, no.

      That means we are subject to the same natural laws as all the other animals. That does not fit with our current economic model, and is terribly inconvenient for the capitalists to admit.

      It means there are limits to unchecked growth, and consequences of ignoring that fact.

      I agree with you - we are hardly at the peak of the animal pyramid. Every creature has its own gifts.

      Some people hardly rate as 'human' considering some of the evil things that are done by them. We could say the are non-Chondrichthyes sharks, although that would be an insult to sharks.


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