The Corner

Politics & Policy

Lake Erie Now Has Rights


Score another victory for the “nature rights” movement. As I warned could happen, voters in Toledo just passed a law granting Lake Erie human-type rights, indeed, a “Bill of Rights” all its own. From the UPI story:

The Lake Erie Bill of Rights passed a special election vote Tuesday, giving the fourth largest of the Great Lakes “the right to exist, flourish and naturally evolve.”

If Lake Erie has the right to “naturally evolve,” doesn’t that mean it is considered a living entity? Doesn’t that mean humans have no right to interfere with its natural state in any way whatsoever?

Some shrug and say that labels aren’t all that important, that granting rights to nature is just another means of protecting the environment using a different lexicon.

No, it’s not. The “nature rights” movement is profoundly subversive, both to human exceptionalism, our liberty, and the important concept of “rights,” itself.

Think about it. If nature has rights, that means everything does, which devalues “rights” just as a wild inflation deflates the worth of currency.

The point of nature rights isn’t just to prevent pollution — laws can do that through prohibiting certain practices, requiring environmental impact reports, through zoning, etc. Rather, the radicals who are leading this agenda wish to thwart capitalism and human thriving.

Nature-rights laws accomplish this by transforming courts into enforcers of green ideology:

The new law gives citizens of Toledo the right to sue any other person, farm or corporation violating the lake’s rights — such as a company, farm or government municipality that is polluting the lake.

Any citizen now has standing to sue to prevent any purported use of land or water that could be construed to interfere with the lake’s new rights.

Even if the radicals ultimately lose, they now have the ability to engage in “greenmail,” i.e., coercing companies to pay for their pet projects under threat of litigation.  Besides, what company or individual is going to risk the increased likelihood of litigation by engaging in enterprises or developments to which the most extreme radicals object? Imagine the problems now just to obtaining liability insurance.

So, why did the people of Toledo grant Lake Erie rights? I don’t know. Perhaps because it was a special election, only the radical environmentalists turned out. Or, perhaps there was no concerted pushback or explanation that granting a geological feature “rights” isn’t a benign act intended to keep the lake clean.

Or, God help us, maybe this is what people really want. But I doubt it. From what I can tell, most remain asleep to the threat this movement poses, perhaps thinking it is too ridiculous on its face to take seriously.

That’s a problem. I see plenty of advocacy on behalf of granting rights to nature, but very little discussion of the many reasons why granting rights outside the human sphere is a very bad idea.

Here’s the score off the top of my head: Four rivers in the world have rights. Two glaciers have rights. Now, one huge lake.

More than thirty U.S. cities have declared a general rights of nature within their boundaries, including Santa Monica and Pittsburgh. Ecuador has the rights of nature (Pachamama) in its constitution. Bolivia has adopted the rights of nature in its laws.

Also one orangutan in Argentina has been declared a “non-human person” and granted a writ of habeas corpus to get out of a zoo.

The time to stop this agenda is growing very short. It won’t take long before “nature rights” is adopted into the Democrat party’s environmental agenda. Then, good luck restraining the radicalism.

Most Popular


In Defense of Coleman Hughes

Picture the scene: A young man walks into a congressional hearing to offer witness testimony. His grandfather was barbarically brutalized by people who are now long dead. The nation in which he resides built its wealth of his grandfather’s brutalization. The question: Should his fellow citizens pay the young ... Read More
Film & TV

Toy Story 4: A National Anthem

The Toy Story franchise is the closest thing we have to an undisputed national anthem, a popular belief that celebrates what we think we all stand for — cooperation, ingenuity, and simple values, such as perpetual hope. This fact of our infantile, desensitized culture became apparent back in 2010 when I took a ... Read More

College Leaders Should Learn from Oberlin

Thanks to their social-justice warrior mindset, the leaders of Oberlin College have caused an Ohio jury to hit it with $44 million in compensatory and punitive damages in a case where the school couldn't resist the urge to side with its “woke” students against a local business. College leaders should learn ... Read More

Joe and the Segs

Joe Biden has stepped in it, good and deep. Biden, if he has any hope of ever being elected president, will be dependent on residual goodwill among African Americans from his time as Barack Obama’s loyal and deferential vice president — so deferential, in fact, that he stood aside for Herself in 2016 even ... Read More
Politics & Policy

The Madcap Caution of Donald Trump

The worry last week was that the Trump administration was ginning up fake intelligence about Iran blowing up oil tankers in the Strait of Hormuz to justify a war against Iran. Then, this week, President Donald Trump said the Iranian attacks weren’t a big deal. The episode is another indication of the ... Read More
Film & TV

Fosse/Verdon and the Dismal #MeToo Obsession

In the final episode of Fosse/Verdon, one of the two titular characters, Bob Fosse, is shooting one of the greatest films of all time. The other, Gwen Verdon, is having a quarrel with her unspeakably dull boyfriend about whether he approves of her performing in a road-show production of a Broadway musical. These ... Read More