Don't preempt local water protections (via the Gainesville Sun)

Via the Gainesville Sun Editorial Board

If Gov. Ron DeSantis and the Legislature won’t do their job in protecting Florida’s natural environment, they shouldn’t stand in the way of local citizens seeking to do it for them.

With state lawmakers failing to protect rivers, springs and other parts of Florida’s environment, communities across the state are considering laws to recognize the rights of nature.

In Alachua County, signatures are being collected to put an initiative called the Santa Fe River Bill of Rights (SAFEBOR) on the November ballot. The charter amendment would recognize the legal rights of the Santa Fe River, its springs and tributaries, and the Floridan Aquifer within the county.

The effort is part of a growing “rights of nature” movement to allow people to sue polluters on behalf of the environment. Last February, more than 60% of voters in Toledo, Ohio, passed a Lake Erie Bill of Rights initiative in response to algae blooms fueled by agricultural runoff and other problems with the water body.

But an amendment was later passed in Ohio’s state budget that invalidated the initiative. Now it appears Florida lawmakers are seeking to pass something similar here, which in this case would stop rights-of-nature laws before they are even approved. . . .

Please read the rest of this astute editorial at the Gainesville Sun website.

The Stillheart Declaration (2013)

As humanity fast-tracks towards the collapse of our planetary systems, we sought to articulate a shared vision toward a new economy based on living in balance with natural systems; where the rights of humans do not extend to the domination of nature. We questioned the viability of a global economy whose jurisprudence places property rights above all; recognizes corporate rights as the most sacred of property rights; subordinates human rights and the collective rights of Indigenous Peoples to corporate rights; and where Nature is not recognized as having any intrinsic rights at all. We discussed the power and possibility of an emerging body of law—recognizing legal rights for ecosystems to exist, flourish and regenerate their vital cycles—as a necessary part of placing our human laws in alignment with Nature’s laws, and our human actions and economy in an appropriate relationship with the natural order of which we are part.

The entire Declaration can be read here. Necessary elements of an economic system consistent with the Rights of Nature include the following:

  • Immediately reducing production and consumption levels to within the carrying capacities of the planet, and the equitable redistribution of available resources/wealth;
  • The full restoration of ecosystems, primarily allowing nature to heal itself;
  • The relocalization of primary production, distribution and use; the abandonment of economic globalization models as inherently wasteful and inequitable;
  • Full recognition of non-monetized labor;
  • Governance through ecologically informed, democratic, participatory, engaged and empowered decision-making at all scales;
  • Elimination of economic systems and strategies that prioritize economic growth, and profit, and private acquisition of resources and wealth, above all other values;
  • The elimination of substances that are toxic, persistent, and bioaccumulative;
  • Zero waste systems for production, use, and decomposition known as cradle-to-cradle living;
  • Recognition of sacred relationships with place;
  • In all economic decisions and human activities, the wellbeing of Nature is primary.

All must speak out for the needs of nature and our Mother Earth as a whole. It is our responsibility to live within the natural order that is sacred to all life on earth. We must redraw the boundaries of the economy to bring them into line with ecological limits and the common sense science of planetary boundaries. Nature’s needs are also our own and must be elevated and protected by legal rights, and maintained through life-sustaining systems of exchange and reciprocity.