Humans are the only species having this conversation. That, at least, makes us special.
Science, one of the premier journals covering scientific research, has an article on giving “rights” to “Nature,” titled “A rights revolution for nature.”
The “revolution” would be based on human rights, based on previous ethics discourse:
“For example, the 1776 American Declaration of Independence held that the rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness were self-evident. The 1789 French Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen announced that the purpose “of all political associations is the preservation of the natural and imprescriptible rights of man,” such as the right to liberty. These expressions of natural human rights provided a vocabulary for arguing that slavery and other rights violations were wrong. Following the devastating human rights violations of World War II, the United Nations adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, recognizing the inherent dignity of all humans and a broad array of rights. Many of these rights are not yet a reality for many people, but the Declaration provides a moral blueprint for more-just societies.“Rights-of-nature advocates posit that environmental devastation is a moral wrong that ought to be stopped. This claim is not grounded in scientific evidence but is no less valid than the assertion that harming humans is a moral wrong. Neither human rights nor nature rights can be demonstrated through a scientific process, but we can make inferences about what justice requires on the basis of what we know to be necessary for the flourishing of humans or of nature.”
Please notice that these are *human* rights. While they don’t give us the “right ” to abuse other species or neligently destroy the environment, the main duty imposed on us by these rights is to each other and our children of tomorrow. That is the very definition of a “more-just society.”
And just how would these rights be protected?
Guardians with appropriate expertise could be appointed as representatives.
And when the “guardians” see Nature’s rights as conflicting with our children’s, how well will that work out?
Beverly B Nuckols, MD
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