Community and Environmental Rights

A lot of people don't think of "the environment" has being owed rights. "What? Give trees rights?" You might think it's something to scoff at but there's a long tradition of recognizing nature as being owed something other than a numerical dollar value for its extractive potential, its ability to be turned into a chair, a car, or a hand-held device, or its value as property.

In 1948, Aldo Leopold wrote "The Land Ethic" in A Sand County Almanac. He believed that things were owed moral status if they are part of the community. He wrote,

All ethics so far evolved rest upon a single premise: that the individual is a member of a community of interdependent parts. His instincts prompt him to compete for his place in that community, but his ethics prompt him also to co-operate (perhaps in order that there may be a place to compete for).

The land ethic simply enlarges the boundaries of the community to include soils, waters, plants, and animals, or collectively: the land.

These simple lines have infused much of the environmental movement's ethics for 60 years. They resonate to some degree in the work of environmentalists' and environmental groups' rhetoric to varying degrees. And some take it more seriously than others.

Today on the show, we will be talking to Ben Price of the Community and Environmental Legal Defense Fund (CELDF). They argue that the escalating ecological crises we are living in has resulted from decisions made powerful people in our major institutions. They argue that "sustainability will never be achieved by leaving those decisions in the hands of a few – both because of their belief in limitless economic production and because their decisions are made at a distance from the communities experiencing the impact of those decisions." What's the answer? In part, it's to change the power dynamics by invoking the rights of communities to determine their futures. The community is that broadest community including the environment, or what Leopold called the land.

Price helped craft State College's Community and Environmental Bill of Rights and Fracking Ban so successfully fought for by GroundswellPA and passed in 72% to 28% landslide. But recently passed legislation that has resulted in Act 13 of the Oil and Gas Law threatens local ordinances to regulate natural gas drilling operations. Will the State College referendum stand? Will the lawsuit against the state by seven Pennsylvania municipalities succeed? Do we need a revolution against what some call a corporate kleptocracy? We'll ask Price these and other questions.

Call in with questions this afternoon from 4-5 pm: (814) 865-9577. You can also join us on Facebook and Twitter as well.

1 comment:

  1. We have to remember that our environmental resources are finite and that is why we should all do our part to help preserve what's left so that the next generation would still enjoy the quality of life that we experienced today.