I have been pounding the “nature rights” warning drum for a few years, and most people still yawn thinking, “It can’t happen here.” (Anyone who would still say such a thing has been making like Rip Van Winkle for the last 50 years.) The issue is being pushed on the radical environmentalist Australian Broadcasting Corporation (remember the network teaching OZ children when they should die to save the planet?) by a professor (of course!) named Peter Burdon. From his column, “What if Trees Could Sue?”:
The legal recognition of nature’s rights is a novel but potentially important step toward an ecologically sustainable human presence on Earth. When the legal standing of the entity shifts, so too does our understanding of it. Throughout history, we have seen a continual evolution in the types of things that can be owned, who was considered capable of ownership and the meaning of ownership itself…In a country like Australia, which does not recognise a Bill of Rights for human beings, we are a long way off achieving such recognition for nature. But if nature is recognised as a bedrock value and limit on human activity, then it could create opportunity for a mutually enhancing human-Earth relationship.
Of course, achieving the delicate balance between human use and access to nature and its rights would be key. However, to translate existing rights of nature law in a way that protects the environment would certainly be a decisive step for an Australian government.
If nature has co-equal rights under the law, it must have co-equal rights. That includes not only ecosystems, but granite, pond scum, HIV viruses, ants, oxygen, nitrogen, CO2, well you get the picture.
If you do that, you will not create a “delicate balance” between humans and nature, you will destroy human prosperity and misanthropically loosen our embrace of the unique meaning and importance of human life.
Consider: If a farmer wanted to clear a field to grow wheat? Must the mice, snakes, birds, and insects be given representation in court so that a judge can balance their rights with that of the farmer? And if we harm our neighbor nature denizens, should we not be forced to pay damages? If not, why not? They have equal rights to the farmer and the people his wheat would feed. Indeed, how can there even be private property under such a system (a matter hinted at by Barton.). This is why Green is the new Red.
Larson’s Far Side is becoming a reality. Push back now or forever hold your peace.