Elephants' numbers grows; is more progress forthcoming?
There's more good green news. May it prove not to be too little too late.
We trim, blend, and append four 2008 articles on eco-issues, a pair that give great hope and a pair that don’t: On green rights in a press release by the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund of Sept 28, on extinction from BBC News on Oct 6 by Richard Black, Environment correspondent, on Canadian press coverage from the CBC News on Oct 3, and on record BC land sales from the Calgary Herald on September 12, 2008 by Shaun Polczer.
by Jeffery J. Smith, October 2008
Ecuador Approves New Constitution: Voters Approve Rights of Nature
By an overwhelming margin, the people of Ecuador today voted for a new, groundbreaking constitution that is the first in the world to recognize legally enforceable Rights of Nature, or ecosystem rights. Communities and individuals have a right, indeed an obligation, to enforce the Rights of Nature when the environment is harmed.
Here’s a translation from the Spanish: Natural communities and ecosystems possess the inalienable right to exist, flourish, and evolve within Ecuador. Those rights shall be self-executing, and it shall be the duty and right of all Ecuadorian governments, communities, and individuals to enforce those rights. Every person, people, community or nationality, will be able to demand the recognition of rights for nature before the public bodies. Suits brought to enforce those rights shall be filed in the name of the natural communities or ecosystem whose rights have been violated, damages shall be awarded to fully restore the natural communities or ecosystems, and awarded damages shall be applied exclusively towards returning the natural community or ecosystem to its previous state.
Ecuador is now the first country in the world to codify a new system of environmental protection based on rights. The people, communities, and governments that the Legal Defense Fund works with recognize that environmental protection cannot be attained under a structure of law that continues to treat natural ecosystems as property.
JJS: Can nature be property in the way that buildings, clothes, and cars are? A better term, proposed by Ralph Borsodi, is “trustery”, whereby we would claim some land publicly, occupy it privately (actual private property), use it sparingly (respecting its right, as above), and compensate neighbors mutually. The last one makes it far easier to bring about the first ones. While “who owns” is key, even more crucial is “who gets the rent”, as in BC below.
Meanwhile, may many more nations follow suit. Eco-rights are needed desperately by many species who, unlike humans, don’t own the land they need to live on.
Mammals Facing Extinction Threat
At least 25% of the world's mammal species are at risk of extinction, according to the first assessment of their status for a decade.
This may be an under-estimate as there is not enough data to make an assessment in more than 800 cases. The true figure could be nearer to one-third.
The Red List of Threatened Species says populations of more than half of mammalian species are falling, with Asian primates particularly at risk.
There is some good news. The African elephant has regained enough number to lead to removal from the high-risk list.
The biggest threat to mammals is loss of habitat, including deforestation.
Within our lifetime, hundreds of species could be lost as a result of our own actions.
JJS: And due to our inaction. At least the press north of the States is taking some initiative.
Show Us the Platform, Party Leaders Demand
TV coverage began and concluded with Green party Leader Elizabeth May in a national debate with candidates from all major Canadian parties. All party spokes-people focused on green issues. Liberals proposed a Green Shift, which would raise taxes on pollution such as carbon emission and lower others such as on income. The Conservative leader, PM Stephen Harper, said his minority government supported the preservation of hundreds of thousands of hectares of environmentally sensitive land, declared a protected marine area by Lake Superior, and created a whale sanctuary by Baffin Island. In a rare moment of concession, Harper said he erred in calling for Canada's participation in the 2003 US-led invasion of Iraq, adding that the claim of weapons of mass destruction proved false.
JJS: Elsewhere in Canada …
BC Adds $220 Million to Record Land Sale Total: Natural Gas Discoveries Fuel Interest
Led by big unconventional natural gas discoveries, British Columbia continued to build on its big and growing land sale tally, tacking another $220 million onto what is already a record year.
The province sold 80,000 hectares at its September sale at an average price of $2,745, bringing its year-to-date total to $2.2 billion -- more than double the previous record of $1 billion all last year.
In 2002 one could buy land for as little as $35 a hectare; now individual parcels sell as high as $35,000 a hectare.
JJS: Since BC decided to sell instead of lease, perhaps they will tax the land and resources, not any improvements, while lowering other taxes. When the US was expanding westward, it used revenue from land sales to keep taxes to a bare minimum.
Jeffery J. Smith runs the Forum on Geonomics.
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