Is planet Earth a living being? Apparently, some environmentalists seem to think so.
Steven Edwards writes:
The bid aims to have the UN recognize the Earth as a living entity that humans have sought to "dominate and exploit" — to the point that the "well-being and existence of many beings" is now threatened.
Bolivia, the nation that is drafting the document, recently passed a law giving "...bugs, trees and all other natural things..." the same rights as humans.
They include: the right to life and to exist; the right to continue vital cycles and processes free from human alteration; the right to pure water and clean air; the right to balance; the right not to be polluted; and the right to not have cellular structure modified or genetically altered.
Controversially, it will also enshrine the right of nature “to not be affected by mega-infrastructure and development projects that affect the balance of ecosystems and the local inhabitant communities”.
“It makes world history. Earth is the mother of all”, said Bolivia's Vice President Alvaro García Linera, according to a post at Infinite Unknown.
“It establishes a new relationship between man and nature, the harmony of which must be preserved as a guarantee of its regeneration,” he reportedly said.
Although the wording of the proposed treaty has yet to evolve, Edwards writes the general structure will likely mirror Bolivia's Law of the Rights of Mother Earth, which Bolivian President Evo Morales enacted earlier this year.
Included in the proposal is a "Ministry of Mother Earth," and an ombudsman for the planet "whose job is to hear nature's complaints as voiced by activist and other groups, including the state."
No details on the role of the "Ministry of Mother Earth" were available, and no one has yet to decide how the ombusdman for the planet would be selected.
Among the rights given to the planet are the "right to life; the right to water and clean air; the right to repair livelihoods affected by human activities; and the right to be free from pollution."
"If you want to have balance, and you think that the only (entities) who have rights are humans or companies, then how can you reach balance?" Pablo Salon, Bolivia's ambassador to the UN, told Postmedia News. "But if you recognize that nature too has rights, and (if you provide) legal forms to protect and preserve those rights, then you can achieve balance."
Some, like James Heiser, sees the proposed treaty as yet another attempt to push global communism by disguising it as environmentalism. In an article at The New American, he writes:
Although the phenomena of environmentalists proving themselves to be “watermelons” (that is, “Green” on the outside and “Red” on the inside) is nothing new, some of socialist President Evo Morales’ (photo, left) anti-Capitalist rhetoric sounds like the stale boilerplate from the Cold War. As President Morales declared in a 2009 interview with Amy Goodman for DemocracyNow.org: “Capitalism is the worst enemy of humanity.” And Morales does not mean “enemy” in some sort of nebulous fashion: he wants a put the evil capitalist polluters on trial.
Heiser also sounds an alarm over the religious aspect of the proposed treaty:
Pairing anti-capitalist rhetoric with invocations of worship of “Mother Earth” may find receptive ears among some of the wackier disciples of Al Gore, but more moderate environmentalists are likely to be turned off by the overtly religious character of the Bolivian proposal. As John Vidal observed in an article for The Sydney Morning Herald, “The law has been heavily influenced by a resurgent indigenous Andean spiritual world view, which places the environment and the earth deity known as the Pachamama at the centre of all life. Humans are considered equal to all other entities.”
The religious aspect of the environmental movement can be felt in the United States. A Washington-based organization called Earth Ministries seeks to "inspire and mobilize the Christian community to play a leadership role in building a just and sustainable future."
According to Salon, however, the goal is to seek "harmony" with the rest of nature:
"We're not saying, for example, you cannot eat meat because you know you are going to go against the rights of a cow," he said. "But when human activity develops at a certain scale that you (cause to) disappear a species, then you are really altering the vital cycles of nature or of Mother Earth. Of course, you need a mine to extract iron or zinc, but there are limits."
The treaty does not yet specify what those limits would be.
The United Nations is set to debate the treaty just two days before International Mother Earth Day - April 22.
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