The Corner

‘Nature Rights’ Court Case Effort

As I detail in my book The War on Humans, environmentalists want to grant “nature” the human-style “right to exist, persist, maintain, and regenerate its vital cycles, structure, functions and its processes in evolution”–in essence a right to life for flora, fauna, and even rivers and granite outcrops.

Before you laugh, Bolivia and Ecuador–as well as more than 30 U.S. municipalities–already have laws guaranteeing nature rights. Perhaps more ominously, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon supports the cause.

Nature rights is now going to court. From the Energy Wire story (my emphasis):

CELDF attorney Lindsey Schromen-Wawrin represented the local water authority, a grass-roots environmental group and the Crystal Spring ecosystem in a motion to join the case on the township’s side…

“By recognizing ecosystems as legal persons we’re trying to change this, to recognize legally that the earth has rights and is not merely property,” he said in an email. “That means, of course, that we’re going up against at least 1,000 years of dogma in western law. That’s not going to be easy, but at the same time we need to make some fundamental shifts in how we relate to the earth in short time.”

The effort is part of the “rights of nature” movement, which has gained attention but little traction in recent years as CELDF promotes the idea in small communities seeking to block oil and gas development. Under the doctrine, parts of the environment would have legal standing in court. The forests, rivers and other parts of nature would still be represented by human lawyers but, unlike environmental groups, would not have to show that a challenged action ultimately harms people.

Nature rights seeks to thwart any large-scale development by granting anyone a right to sue on behalf of “nature,” and require courts to give “equal consideration” to those rights with any human need or desire to use “nature” for our benefit.

And before you chortle, “It will never happen here,” remember: It only takes one ideological judge who wants to make history to put this anti-human meme in legal play. As events of the last few decades attest, such jurists are not in short supply.

Wesley J. Smith — Wesley J. Smith is a senior fellow at the Discovery Institute’s Center on Human Exceptionalism.

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