Young tree (Pixabay) In 1972, two years after the alarm bell of the first Earth Day, law professor Christopher Stone made the case for legal rights for nature in Should Trees Have Standing? Toward Legal Rights for Natural Objects . This was not a new idea. The rights of nature have been at the centre of Indigenous and other legal systems for millennia. Yet in 1972, at the dawn of the environmental law era, the idea that nature itself, in the form of a forest or a river, a bird or a whale , could launch a court action was viewed as downright bizarre. Half a century later Stone’s article seems prophetic. Legal rights for nature are taking root. From Ecuador to Australia and right here in North America, Indigenous, federal, state and local governments and courts recognize nature’s rights. The sprouts of hope are shooting up all over. Unthinkable? Imagine the world with rights for nature “Throughout legal history, each successive extension of rights to some new entity, has been, theretofore, a bit unthinkable. ” – Christopher Stone Abolishing slavery, allowing women to vote, affirming Indigenous peoples’ rights, providing that marriage is available to all, regardless of sexual […]

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