Does Nature Have Rights? A Burgeoning Legal Movement Says Yes

"Climate change and environmental destruction have inspired court cases around the country—and the globe—aimed at protecting the natural world."

"For Chuck O’Neal, a lifelong outdoorsman and environmentalist, the moment of truth came on election night 2020, as results rolled in from perhaps the most partisan campaign season in American history.

He wasn’t watching Trump or Biden. O’Neal had spent the past two years running a campaign in Orange County, Florida, based on an unorthodox legal doctrine that holds that rivers, mountains and forests should have legal rights, just like people.

His effort involved amending the county’s charter, its mini-constitution, with a so-called rights of nature provision. The provision would protect waterways like the glassy Wekiva River from harmful pollution, such as that linked to toxic algae blooms fueled by fertilizer runoff from agriculture, septic systems and poor stormwater management.

While the rights of nature movement has been gaining ground for decades in countries around the world and in dozens of local jurisdictions in the United States, O’Neal knew that this fast-growing county in central Florida, home to Disney World in booming Orlando, would offer one of its biggest tests."

Katie Surma reports for Inside Climate News September 19, 2021.

Source: Inside Climate News, 09/22/2021