Nature’s Rights

“What if nature had rights?” is a question that gets to the heart of the destruction our society is doing to the world we live on.

Rather than treat nature as property, Rights of Nature acknowledge that nature in all its forms has the right to exist, thrive and flourish.

A forest ecosystem — the trees, rivers, soil and everything living in that web of life — has a right to be healthy. The decision to cut a forest down should not depend on who owns the land and the amount of profit they can make. It should depend on the forest ecosystem’s right to exist.

Nature does have rights. The problem is that our industrial/technology-dependent world does not recognize such rights or respect them.

Various indigenous cultures acknowledge nature’s rights. Those rights have influenced the way they have lived for centuries. Our culture needs to wake up, learn and earn the wisdom of indigenous people. Nature has rights.

Such a wake-up has begun. It dates back a few decades and is happening all over the world — in New Zealand, India, Ecuador and nearby Lincoln County.

We can do something locally. Lane County can pass its own ballot initiative recognizing the Rights of Nature.

Want to learn more? Go to the “What if Nature had Rights?” panel discussion 6 pm, Sept. 20, at the Many Nations Longhouse. The panelists will discuss what’s been done elsewhere, what has succeeded and what has failed. And what we can do locally.

John Herberg