Tuesday, June 19, 2012

The Earth’s advocate: Defending our environment

The Independent
June 13, 2012

In 1992 the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro designed international legal protocol for the protection of the environment. Twenty years later, British barrister Polly Higgins believes those laws have failed.

“Environmental law as it stands is clearly not fit for purpose,” she says.

But her sweet Scottish brogue has only tones of optimism. Her perpetual smile reveals faith in her proposed solution – an international crime of ‘ecocide.’

Seven years ago, working as a corporate lawyer in London, she found herself fighting for things she didn’t believe in. She was representing clients who looked at the environment as collateral damage in pursuit of profit.

So Higgins became an international environmental lawyer. She has taken on one client, pro bono, and became advocate for the earth.

“I recognised that we don’t have legal duty of care for the earth. It doesn’t exist. I realised that the earth was in need of a good lawyer,” she says.

This month she will travel to the Rio+20 summit, as an official observer, to petition for the legal rights of the planet to be acknowledged under her proposed law of ecocide.

She has tabled international legislation at the UN that would make the “extensive damage, destruction to or loss of ecosystems” the fifth crime against peace, alongside genocide, under the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court.  Her law of ecocide would empower individuals and communities to act as legal guardians of the planet in the courtroom.  Read the whole story here.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Environmentalism Has Failed: A Biocentric Viewpoint Is Needed Now

Living Green Magazine
May 7, 2012

Environmentalism has failed. Over the past 50 years, environmentalists have succeeded in raising awareness, changing logging practices, stopping mega-dams and offshore drilling, and reducing greenhouse gas emissions. But we were so focused on battling opponents and seeking public support that we failed to realize these battles reflect fundamentally different ways of seeing our place in the world. And it is our deep underlying worldview that determines the way we treat our surroundings.

We have not, as a species, come to grips with the explosive events that have changed our relationship with the planet. For most of human existence, we lived as nomadic hunter-gatherers whose impact on nature could be absorbed by the resilience of the biosphere. Even after the Agricultural Revolution 10,000 years ago, farming continued to dominate our lives. We cared for nature. People who live close to the land understand that seasons, climate, weather, pollinating insects and plants are critical to our well-being.  Read the whole story here.