A new paradigm is emerging to recognize and support the natural rights of ecosystems. To correct humanity's cycle of plundering and exploiting nature, we can achieve a balance between the needs of human beings, the needs of other species, and the needs of the planet, by extending legal protection to ecosystems.
The societal and technological evolution of humanity has resulted in a zeitgeist of separation from nature. Unlike some indigenous cultures which have a history of living in relative harmony with their natural environment, modern human culture tends to view nature as an adversary or as a mere commodity.
Yet, that separation is an illusion. As powerful as humanity has become in terms of our ability to engineer and control the world around us, we are still fundamentally interconnected and interdependent with nature at every level of existence. We can’t thrive if the world’s ecosystems are not supported. Along with our endeavor to protect human rights, we need protective rules to ensure that healthy ecosystems also have the right to exist and to fulfill their natural purpose.
Our existing laws do more to protect the rights of corporations to plunder the environment than they do to protect ecosystems. They enable and legitimize environmental destruction, often with comparatively petty financial consequences that actually allow such violations to remain profitable.
By establishing the legal rights of ecosystems, nature itself can be represented as the injured party in court. This initiative represents a practical, transitional approach to halting environmental destruction using the existing legal system.
Naturally, humans need to access resources from the environment to survive, and ultimately, we believe the systems, of which they are a part, can be protected as part of the Non-Aggression Principle and that the protective rules that govern human sovereignty would extend the Non-Aggression principle to whole systems to ensure that our planet and all life has the opportunity to thrive. All life matters.
We have identified several organizations currently helping to progress the Rights of Nature movement. Some include anti-capitalist messaging with which we disagree, as we believe that ultimately ecosystems can be better protected with a true free market with protective rules than with the government regulations of corporations. However, we acknowledge that we don’t have- and have never had a true free market and as such need to rely on government regulations to enforce basic protection. What is called capitalism now is corrupt crony corporatism and the fundamental flaw in the dynamic between government and corporations will not achieve what the Non- Aggression Principle, upheld by enforceable protective rules, can. Learn more about our views on capitalism here (link).
Many organizations working most effectively to protect ecosystems also include validation of man-made global warming and the global carbon tax, which we do not. See our concerns about this here.
Nonetheless, in the transition to a world in which protective rules guard against exploitation of people and the planet, we honor the work that is being done to protect the Earth and support regulations and legal consequences for perpetrators’ planetary destruction. As such, we recommend this action and these organizations.
An existing movement going by the name “Rights of Nature” is already gaining traction and has been officially recognized in Ecuador, Bolivia, Mexico City and many municipalities in the U.S. We support this movement but prefer the verbiage of “rights of ecosystems” to put the focus on protecting the ecosystems as a whole while leaving space for reasonable use of nature. For example, chopping down some trees on your private property could be seen as an attack on nature, but if it’s done minimally ensuring the integrity of the ecosystem as a whole, it would not be viewed as a violation. Learn more about this transformational movement with the organizations and resources below.
How do we know when we are in a state of reasonable utilization of nature and natural resources vs. when we are exploiting and abusing it? Where’s the line?
In a free and voluntary society, what would be the ramifications for violating Rights of Ecosystems and who would decide?
The Indigenous Environmental Network was formed by grassroots Indigenous peoples and individuals to address environmental and economic justice issues. IEN’s activities include building the capacity of Indigenous communities and tribal governments to develop mechanisms to protect our sacred sites, land, water, air, natural resources, health of both our people and all living things, and to build economically sustainable communities.
CELDF is spearheading the advancement of the Rights of Nature around the world. Their mission is to “to build sustainable communities by assisting people to assert their right to local self-government and the rights of nature”.
Learn more and support their initiative by donating to their legal fund to keep the work moving forward.