Rights of nature are essential

Our world today isn’t particularly crowded with healthy views. However, a billionaire, a die-hard who still thinks they have a story to stick to, or someone simply “too busy” to see for themselves, could argue that point.

One could argue that our land isn’t being plundered and left violated and polluted by insatiable corporations grabbing what’s left of Earth’s resources. But it’s being done, choosing profit over the health of the Earth and its inhabitants.

One could argue that our forests aren’t being clear-cut and sprayed with poisonous brews. But they are. Profit is more crucial than the well-being of the Earth and its inhabitants.

One could argue that our air, water and food aren’t being poisoned by greedy chemical corporations for profit, without concern for the welfare of the Earth and its inhabitants. But this is being done for profit, fully aware that their merchandise is directly affecting or killing Earth’s inhabitants. Warning: our lives depend on clean air, water and food.

One could argue that our mammals, birds, insects, reptiles, amphibians, sea life, and microorganisms aren’t being killed by corporate cruelty, but they are, all for profit. How? Habitat degradation due to agriculture, land development, poisons, logging and mining, and climate change.

Scientists believe we’re already in the midst of the Holocene extinction, aka the sixth mass extinction, caused by human activity. The U.N. reported that one million plant and animal species are in danger of extinction.

Corporations have fought long and paid highly for their legalized rights, which are usually judged as surpassing those of the land, forests, food, air, water, wildlife or you and me.

Corporate rights eclipse those of people trying to protect their own properties, neighborhoods or communities. Corporations rarely hear “No.”

Rights of Nature

It’s time to reevaluate these immoral laws. The Rights of Nature movement has begun and will grant nature more protection. The movement extends around the globe and calls for “governmental acknowledgment.” Existence, regeneration and restoration are the basic rights of nature and will include reparation for damaged natural systems caused by unregulated corporations.

It’s time we started respecting nature if we want to survive. It’s also time we stop treating nature as a commodity. Everything is connected in this world. Nature is our lifeblood, our kin and it connects us all.

In September, I attended “Democracy School,” taught by the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund (CELDF) and learned how easily federal, state and local laws and rules have been manipulated by big business.

Sacrifice zones have even been set up by corporations to prosper at the cost of allowing areas to die from poisons. In some areas, like Pine Ridge, S.D. and Camden, N.J., whole regions and cities were sacrificed with enormous environmental impact. Pine Ridge life expectancy is 47 for males, 52 for females. Camden’s violent crime rate is among the highest in the country.

CELDF facilitates action across the country and internationally. A good example of success? When “residents adopted the Lake Erie Bill of Rights… It is the first law in the U.S. to secure legal rights of an ecosystem,” CELDF’s website reads.

Marylin Olds is an opinion columnist and can be reached at marylin.olds@gmail.com.

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