Ep 11: The Rights of Nature, Part 2

“Nature is pre-eminent,” says Don Shelby, our host. “Our protection of the natural world will help alleviate the worst of the effects of climate change.”

In Episode 11 of Earth Intelligence, we continue our discussion on the rights of Nature. Why does protecting Nature make it easier to protect human rights? What examples can point the way for others?

In this episode, we get into the question of whether protecting Nature is any different from protecting ourselves. Myra Jackson, speaking from long experience building support for the rights of Nature and Earth law, says:

The truth is: there is not a difference. We do not get a fulsome response when we put human beings at the center of that debate… often the law will not take action unless you can cite harm being done to people… as if the harm being done to other species, and natural systems, has no impact on humans. This is where we are off course. What happens to the smallest of life has an impact on all of us… how we care for nature is an assurance of care for ourselves and for generations to come.

Joe Robertson notes that “The rights of Nature are coextensive with human rights.” They are part of one continuum of protected dignity that includes the right to health and wellbeing.

Nation states cannot always represent all of the interests of their people. They tend to narrow, to see immediate material purpose as most useful, most salient. The rights of Nature are useful for nation states to be able to see more clearly the boundaries, to be able to see more clearly what it means to serve their people well.

Myra comes back to the connection between protecting Nature and serving humanity: “There’s not a way to go to Nature’s rights and leave behind people, who are also a part of Nature.”

A major shift toward innovation that fosters, realizes, and measures stewardship value, is now getting underway, across the world.

Don raises the critical question, however, noting that economic and political systems tend to allow exploitative and extractive industries to prosper, even when people and Nature suffer as a result. He asks:

How has New Zealand, how has Ecuador, how has Bolivia, stopped this… if you can’t show a financial value in the protection of nature?

Myra, again:

This is why I keep my eyes on New Zealand and the experiment that is going on there. Everyone is asking that we prove something, against an aberrant system… I believe the collapsed nature of the money system is known… there does need to be a movement from the false economy.

Returning to the information that drives decision-making, Joe notes that new ways of integrating distinct kinds of data are making it possible to provide evolutionary, multifaceted, highly precise Resilience Value assessments. As we learn how to see the destructive or constructive tendencies of specific practices, in close to real time, this trend will eventually become the core of financial data systems.

Myra builds on this, saying:

What I want everyone to know is that we have Earth systems that can help us… these Earth systems are regenerative. There’s a lot we can learn from Nature…

As we leave 2020 behind, it is worth observing: We have learned a lot about the consequences of irresponsible use of authority. We have learned a lot about the need for conscience-driven, ethical and determined scientific research. We have learned a lot about our responsibility to each other.

Let’s make 2021 about getting all of these things right, so we can live in a healthy, sustainable world, where all people, and all of Earth’s life-sustaining systems, are valued.


For more on Part 1 of this discussion on the rights of Nature, click here.