By: Pat Ravasio
Marin Independent Journal
If corporations are entitled to human rights, why not nature?
In Marin’s debate over how much development is good, the voice of nature has been noticeably absent. This is because, unlike American corporations, which were granted full rights of personhood by the U.S. Supreme Court in 2010, nature herself has yet to be granted any such rights.
Organizations hoping to change that, and give nature legal standing, include the Nature Law Center, which states: “Current environmental laws have been unable to prevent increasingly grave threats, including climate change, drying waterways, and disappearing species. These and other environmental threats contribute to growing instability around the world when it comes to clean water, safe shelter, healthy food and other basic necessities.”
Currently, our legal system and government treat the natural world as property that can be exploited and degraded, rather than as an integral ecological partner with its own rights to exist and thrive. Thanks to the rampant recent fracking boom in America, more than 20 communities (mostly in Pennsylvania and Ohio) have passed ordinances to protect clean water, air and lands. Because of these new laws, security of water resources, stability of land, quality of the air, come before corporate profits. Imagine that.
Overall, environmental laws are being undermined, not strengthened.
Corporations have challenged the Endangered Species Act for lack of a “provision for allowing species to go extinct.” The inevitable endpoint of current laws is that the natural world continues to be exploited for profit, until the resources are gone.
Members of the natural world will disappear first, and without major change, our livelihoods and lives will be next.
The false dogma of “humans over nature” needs to shift. To ensure a sustainable future, we must reorient ourselves from our current exploitative and self-destructive relationship with nature, to one that honors the deep connections of all life.
We need new laws to protect the very ecosystem our lives depend on.
It’s not that we’re that stupid (although that could be argued) but since our courts gave corporations the right to purchase loyalty from our government representatives, in unlimited dollar amounts, their interests dominate most decision making, which is of course why Marin faces fierce development pressure in the first place.
What kind of laws could Marin enact?
Maybe something like the Ecuadorian Constitution, which endows the environment with inalienable rights to “exist, persist, maintain and regenerate its vital cycles, structure, functions and its processes in evolution.” It also grants individuals legal authority to defend these rights, on behalf of the environment.
Or the recently enacted “Nature Rights Ordinance” in Santa Monica.
Read more: http://www.marinij.com/opinion/20150528/marin-voice-marin-should-lead-on-natures-rights