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Rights of Nature

It could be said that movements to create sustainable communities and ecosystems in the United States is considered illegal. Whereas Professor Roderick Nash has intellectually argued that long-standing and foundational governance has indeed changed, and these changes have perfected the general welfare for humans and wildlife. Examples include the struggle to end slavery and securing basic human rights for women, indigenous peoples, and ethnic and religious minorities. This would include the right to even exist, which is the foundation principle for the Endangered Species Act of 1973. This process has taken many centuries to evolve and the transformation is far from completion. We think this is the most important issue of our times, especially so as the retention of heat continues to rise in the oceans of this planet.


There is a growing awareness that the current construct of US environmental laws is not sufficient to address the ecological realities of today and tomorrow. The reasons for this are many but two central tenets to why this is the case:

  • The environmental laws themselves were never designed to protect the environment as many thought they were intended to do.
  • The deeper superstructure of US law, governance, and the economic system that it spawned and continues to protect exists in order to control and exploit the natural world. The overall mission is the endless production of more and federal and state environmental laws are not a counter force but integrated into the system itself.

With awareness has come the desire to imagine and move into play a new system of law and behavior that reorients our relationship to the natural world. The law today in the United States sees nature as property. The counter being developed now for the last 15+ years views nature as rights bearing. The growth in rights of nature law-making has come primarily from small communities in the United States whereas in other parts of the world many of the instances have rights of nature legal assertions have come through national level legislation or high court decisions.








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