If Nature Has Rights, Climate Change Has A New Consequence

Day four of the five-day trek through five of Global Exchange‘s 2011 campaign goals examines the rights of nature, after exploring how to reduce corporate control of our lives, embracing clean energy as we abandon our carbon addiction and making fair trade chocolate instead of economic war over the last three days.

Transition from climate change to system change: After the Climate Talks in Cancun this past December, it was clear that Western leaders favored corporate-driven solutions for climate change over community-based solutions. Although the climate agreement that came out of Cancun ignored the communities directly affected by climate change and the rights of nature, Global Exchange continues to advocate for climate justice in the upcoming The Rights of Nature: The Case for a Universal Declaration on the Rights of Mother Nature. The book, set to be released in April, will reveal a movement driving the cultural and legal shift that is necessary to transform our human relationship with nature away from being property-based and toward a rights-based model of balance that no longer views nature as property to be destroyed at will.

I’ve been thinking a lot about eco-feminism lately, particularly as it intersects with eco-socialism. Watch this space on March 8, 2011, International Women’s Day for more on all this. But right now, I’d like to explore a theme in this Global Exchange book coming out on the rights of nature. Eco-feminism suggests that women and our natural environment are oppressed in a similar fashion. Liberation of one is part of the same process as liberation of the other.

Women and nature used to be property of men. Women got their independence, generally, throughout the world, but the world is still a commodity. Does nature have any rights? Are rights an inherently human concept? Do ladybugs have any kind of philosophical right to exist? Do ladybugs have more rights than hothouse tomatoes because from a utilitarian perspective tomatoes have more material/economic value.

One thing I’m convinced of is that without taking a synthesizing, integrating systems theory approach to how we view ourselves, our relationships and our place on the planet, we’ll suffer from myopic thinking. Honestly, we, the planet, and our global economic relationships cannot resist much more abuse in our current paradigm.

This is the fourth reason why I support Global Exchange. And so should you.

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Stephen Elliott-Buckley

Upright, left-leaning.
Stephen Elliott-Buckley is a husband, father, former suburban Vancouver high school English and Social Studies teacher who changed careers because the BC Liberal Party has been working hard to ruin public education. He has various English and Political Science degrees and has been writing political, social and economic editorials since November 2002. Stephen is in Twitter, Miro and iTunes, and the email thing, and at his website, dgiVista.org.

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