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Human Exceptionalism

Life and dignity with Wesley J. Smith.

Nature’s “Rights” Depends on Who Has Power



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Nature rights is a relatively new strategy for thwarting the creation of energy and the development of natural resources, pushed primarily by radical greens and ideological anti free marketers.

Nature rights first was adopted into national law by Ecuador–controlled by hard leftists. As with most autocracies, rights are fine until they get in the way of the power structure. 

Now, Ecuador is going to explore for oil in the Amazon despite nature’s so-called rights. From the Bloomberg Businessweek story:

OPEC-member Ecuador, where the rights of nature are recognized in the constitution, plans to develop crude deposits in an Amazon area declared a biosphere reserve by the United Nations as existing fields age and economic growth slows. President Rafael Correa will ask the country’s congress to allow drilling in the Ishpingo-Tambococha-Tiputini oil fields in eastern Ecuador’s Yasuni National Park, he said yesterday…

The decision reverses a policy to preserve nature in an area eight times bigger than Los Angeles, estimated by Correa to hold 920 million barrels of crude, or about 20 percent of Ecuador’s reserves. The proposal to develop the area comes as economic growth is forecast to slow for a third year. “The needs of the government to increase revenue immediately,” prompted the proposal, Roger Tissot, director at oil consulting firm Tissot Associates, said in an interview from Vernon, 

Please note: Ecuador protected this area years before giving nature rights, and now will develop it despite nature’s rights. It’s all about power. The same thing happened there some years ago when indigenous people tried to stop mining in their beautiful mountains. Correa rolled right over them.

If Ecuador is going to develop resources despite nature’s rights, what’s the problem?

I am glad you asked.  As envisioned for the developed West–such as the one in Santa Monica–the courts are the arbiters of whether a proposed development violated nature’s rights and whether human or nature should prevail. The subversive theory is to give nature “equal consideration” in all disputes between us and everything else. Imagine the litigation possibilities!

Topping that, anyone and everyone is given legal standing to sue to protect nature’s rights in these laws, that is for nature “to exist, persist, maintain and regenerate its vital cycles, structure, functions and its processes in evolution.” That’s essentially a right to life for nature–and that means the anti capitalist and deep pocketed radical environmental groups will have a field day! Ultimately, it wouldn’t matter whether they won or lost in court. They could stop development in for years–or extort contributions just with the threat of litigation.  



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