The world has changed, but our worldview is still the same. We need to free our minds of a worldview that is inadequate to meet the challenges of climate change and biodiversity loss. Many people are now realizing Nature needs to be protected, because our lives depend on clean air, clean water, unpolluted land, and all the living things that make up the web of life. One way we can protect Nature is with a Rights of Nature law.
Rights of Nature law is an international movement that is gaining momentum. It is our Biodiversity Group’s next big project. We are helping our community understand why this law is needed. Under current Pennsylvania law, townships and boroughs have no authority to regulate the poisoning of their environments. A Rights of Nature law would give townships and boroughs that authority.
We envision an amendment to the Pennsylvania constitution that grants legal rights to Nature. Here’s why:
“To avert the worst impacts of the climate crisis and move toward a planet in balance, we must challenge the idea that Earth’s living systems are property and change our legal frameworks to adhere to the natural laws of the Earth. Recognizing Rights of Nature means that human activities and development must not interfere with the ability of ecosystems to absorb their impacts, to regenerate their natural capacities, to thrive and evolve, and requires that those responsible for destruction, including corporate actors and governments be held fully accountable.“
From the book Rights of Nature & Mother Earth: Rights-based law for Systemic Change byOsprey Orielle Lake, Shannon Biggs, and Tom B.K. Goldtooth (free to read here)
The necessity of protecting our environment cannot be overstated, because our lives depend it. Many people are becoming aware of how important biodiversity and ecosystems are to life on Earth, but don’t know how they can help. Some of the ways we intend to change that is by raising awareness, sharing information about biodiversity and native plants, and encouraging people to reconnect with nature.
To understand more reasons why we need a Rights of Nature law, check out these links:
HR 1 Puts Polluters over People (passed in the US House on March 23, 2023)
Survival by Degrees (lists seven birds at high risk of extinction in Delaware County, PA)
We are fortunate to have Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund (CELDF) as a resource to help us. CELDF’s mission is “to build sustainable communities by assisting people to assert their right to local self-government and the rights of nature”. CELDF has worked since 2006 to provide pro bono and low-cost legal assistance to grassroots groups and municipal governments who want to expand legal protections for ecosystems and human environmental rights.
CELDF has worked with communities in Colorado, New Hampshire, New Mexico, Ohio, Oregon, Washington and Pennsylvania to successfully secure Rights of Nature laws. CELDF will begin work in our community when we have 5 or 10 people who are interested in this project. Chad Nicholson, CELDF attorney and PA Community Organizer, will meet with us via zoom to discuss how to proceed.
When we act together, we have the power to affect change. Will you be one of the 5 to 10? If the answer is yes, please contact email@example.com.