Twin Cities Edition
Bookmark and Share Email this page Email Print this page Print Feed Feed

Nature Rights

Waterways Granted Personhood

RnDmS/Shutterstock.com

This year, the Whanganui River, in New Zealand, became the first in the world to be granted the same legal rights as a person. Equally vital, a court in northern India has given the sacred Ganges and Yamuna rivers, as well as several glaciers, the legal status of “living human entities” to help in the preservation and conservation of the country’s highly polluted waterways, thus allowing polluters to be sued.

These decisions are variants of “rights of nature” measures that date back to the 1970s. More than three dozen U.S. localities have ordinances ascribing varying types of rights to nature or to specific natural objects.

In America, rights of nature activism usually takes the form of ballot initiatives that emerge to contest the power of corporations wherever local natural resources are seen as being threatened. The first such ordinance was passed in 2006, when Tamaqua Borough, in Pennsylvania, sought to protect the town’s drinking water from the nearby dumping of sewage sludge.

More recently, an ordinance from the Boulder (Colorado) County Protectors, with assistance from the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund, asserting the “right to a healthy climate,” was recognized as a federal constitutional right by Judge Ann Aiken, of the U.S. District Court in Oregon.


Source: BBC


This article appears in the August 2017 issue of Natural Awakenings.

Edit ModuleShow Tags

More from Natural Awakenings

Tuna Turnaround

Levels of toxic mercury in Atlantic Bluefin tuna declined 19 percent between 2004 and 2012, a drop that scientists attribute to a shift from coal to natural gas and renewable energy.

Buzzing RoboBees

Harvard researchers have invented tiny robotic bees that may be able to eventually pollinate the crops that are under threat because of vanishing bee colonies.

Add your comment: