The Corner

Energy & Environment

Teen Vogue and National Geographic Push Nature Rights

(Daniel Acker/Reuters)

The nature-rights movement is creeping steadily into the mainstream. Recently, the world’s second-most-prestigious science journal, Science, came on board. Now from the other end of the intellectual spectrum, Teen Vogue has published a one-sided story that would persuade impressionable young readers to join the cause. Added bonus: It promotes neo-mystical earth religion and indigenous peoples’ rights! From the story:

While the rights-of-nature movement is a relatively new concept for Western communities, its use by Indigenous peoples can be traced to traditional worldviews and laws that view nature as a living being. Humanity is integrated into this being, not separate from it. For example, the Whanganui community in New Zealand, which advocated for the rights of nature for the Whanganui River, otherwise known as Te Awa Tupua, has a saying to demonstrate its connectedness to the riverKo au te awa, ko te awa ko au: I am the river, the river is me.

The story gushes that nature rights will restore ancient indigenous wisdom, meaning it will undermine Western Civilization.

The movement for rights of nature is more than just a level of enhanced environmental protection or even the development of a new way of thinking about nature in the modern world. It is all of that, but it is also the act of asserting traditional Indigenous law and philosophy into modern society.

Here’s what the story doesn’t tell its impressionable readers.

  • Nature rights isn’t about preventing pollution — we have laws for that. It is about impeding human enterprise and reducing prosperity, since anyone can sue to prevent any human activity that the person suing believes violates the “rights” of nature.
  • The very indigenous people who are supposed to benefit from nature rights are also, often, the most destitute — even though they possess lands rich in natural resources. Talk about a plan to keep the poorest people mired in misery!
  • Nature rights is not compatible with the modern world that has to support seven billion people, meaning the need to use industrial farming methods, the intense extraction of natural resources, and large-scale development of the land.
  • Nature rights seeks to knock human beings off the pedestal of unique value. That would lead to a more brutal world, not a more gentle one.
  • Nature rights substantially undermines the crucial concept of rights, which is indispensable to protecting human liberty. If everything has rights — fungus, pond scum, mosquitoes, viruses, geological features, and minerals, for example — in essence, nothing does.
  • Nature rights cleaves the important nexus between rights and responsibilities.
  • Nature rights activists’ primary purpose is to destroy capitalism. Yet, societies founded on free enterprise are the cleanest because they are, not coincidentally, the most prosperous.

National Geographic has also noticed the cause — and approvingly reports that New Zealand is leading the charge. Again, we see the celebration of embodying indigenous religious beliefs into Western law. From the story:

The legal framework flows naturally from the recognition of the river as a person and an ancestor. In families, we tend not to focus on rights but on mutual obligations. That nature is family is central to Maori cosmology. They see the living world as an extended relationship network, in which humans are neither superior nor inferior to any other life form. All are linked by shared descent from Earth and sky.

New Zealand is expanding the scope of these laws to other geological features:

New Zealand recognized in law what Maori had been insisting all along: The river is a living being. Parliament passed legislation declaring that Te Awa Tupua—the river and all its physical and metaphysical elements—is an indivisible, living whole, and henceforth possesses “all the rights, powers, duties, and liabilities” of a legal person.

This is not the only such statute. Based on the Whanganui precedent, 820 square miles of forests, lakes, and rivers—a former national park known as Te Urewera—also gained legal personhood. Soon a mountain, Taranaki, will become the third person.

Rivers, mountains, and forests can’t have duties! If the river floods, for example, can it be sued? Ridiculous.

And yes, of course, nary was heard a discouraging word in the entire story. Good grief, National Geographic is as mainstream as it gets.

People keep telling me to chill, that nature-rights advocacy is just so much radical bloviating that will never happen. But it is happening, as I have repeatedly demonstrated.

The encroachment of nature rights onto responsible environmentalism is accelerating. It’s still not too late to stifle it. But that will require taking the threat seriously. We’d better hurry because I sense that time is growing short.

Most Popular

Media

Martha McSally’s Blasphemy

As I note in my New York Post piece today, I don’t believe that Martha McSally, who is serving her first term in the Senate after being appointed to take John McCain’s seat, is going to be helped much by accusing CNN’s Manu Raju of being a “hack.” Attacking the press might be an effective way to excite ... Read More
Media

Martha McSally’s Blasphemy

As I note in my New York Post piece today, I don’t believe that Martha McSally, who is serving her first term in the Senate after being appointed to take John McCain’s seat, is going to be helped much by accusing CNN’s Manu Raju of being a “hack.” Attacking the press might be an effective way to excite ... Read More
Elections

Lying Liz

Ever since she began explaining how her Medicare for all plan would be funded, and how she would pass it, Elizabeth Warren has been sinking. Ahead of last week’s debate, her camp leaked a story that her friend Bernie Sanders met with her in 2018 to discuss plans for 2020, and that at this meeting, Sanders had ... Read More
Elections

Lying Liz

Ever since she began explaining how her Medicare for all plan would be funded, and how she would pass it, Elizabeth Warren has been sinking. Ahead of last week’s debate, her camp leaked a story that her friend Bernie Sanders met with her in 2018 to discuss plans for 2020, and that at this meeting, Sanders had ... Read More

People Make New Orleans

I had my first taste of southern hospitality the day I moved to New York. A young woman from New Orleans, whom I had met only briefly over Skype (she had advertised a room in the Bronx, though I preferred a room in Manhattan), had asked if anyone would be picking me up from the airport. No, I told her. I didn’t ... Read More

People Make New Orleans

I had my first taste of southern hospitality the day I moved to New York. A young woman from New Orleans, whom I had met only briefly over Skype (she had advertised a room in the Bronx, though I preferred a room in Manhattan), had asked if anyone would be picking me up from the airport. No, I told her. I didn’t ... Read More
White House

The GAO’s Report

The Government Accountability Office issued a short report yesterday concluding that the administration had broken the law in freezing aid to Ukraine last summer. A common response from the president’s defenders has been that the GAO has found such violations of the law on many occasions, and the press did not ... Read More
White House

The GAO’s Report

The Government Accountability Office issued a short report yesterday concluding that the administration had broken the law in freezing aid to Ukraine last summer. A common response from the president’s defenders has been that the GAO has found such violations of the law on many occasions, and the press did not ... Read More