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NEWS: Maude vs. Murphy on the rights of nature

National Post columnist Rex Murphy recently wrote, “Bolivia’s President Evo Morales (has) hailed national legislation that would enshrine the ‘rights of Mother Nature’ – human rights extended to Earth itself. Pause to marvel at the powers of the Bolivian legislature. …What does the new Bolivian law mean? It means that tics that suck the blood, the choking sulphur pits of volcanic vents, the indestructible cockroach, the arid desert wastes and the bleak frigid spaces of the planet’s poles – everything from the locusts that despoil, to the great mountain ranges, the earth and all that is in it, are to have rights. …The proposal combines the decayed anti-capitalism of Marxism with a veritable litany of new-age twaddle and camp spiritualism – paganism in the age of Bluetooth and Twitter. …It is Orwellian, in that it would summon into being something called the Ministry of the Earth, which will provide our planet with an ombudsman… Why can’t the old hag, Mother Earth I mean, get her own ombudsman? …When the conscious creature – that would be Man – condescends to worship the inanimate one – that would be the Stone -the order of things is inverted and undone.”

In today’s National Post, Council of Canadians chairperson Maude Barlow responds, “Rex Murphy’s clever use of words and humour mask a column of breathtaking ignorance and show him to be on the wrong side of history. Bolivia’s move to protect the rights of nature is not some flaky sort of paganism, as Mr. Murphy asserts, but a survival mechanism in the face of melting glaciers caused by the climate crisis. Just last week, scientists from the US National Science Foundation warned that ‘catastrophic drought’ is on the near-term horizon for La Paz, the capital city of Bolivia, at the current expected rate of temperature rise and said that the changes will be disastrous for the water supply and agricultural capacity of the city’s two million inhabitants. Modern society has viewed nature as a great big resource to be exploited for our pleasure and profit, not as a living ecosystem that must be protected if we and it are to survive. If Rex Murphy is having such trouble with this move by Bolivia, he will be apoplectic at the fact that the UN will, this very week, debate the Universal Declaration of the Rights of Mother Earth. History will prove Mr. Murphy wrong and this declaration will one day take its place as the companion to the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights.”

The UN General Assembly session on how to create ‘harmony with nature’, will take place at the UN General Assembly tomorrow (April 20). The next day, the Council of Canadians and partners will be launching a new book titled The Rights of Nature: The Case for a Universal Declaration of the Rights of Mother Earth in New York. The book includes writings from movement leaders and activists, including Maude, Vandana Shiva, Cormac Cullinan, and Pablo Solon. The book has been produced in partnership with Global Exchange, Navdanya, EnAct International, and Fundacion Pachamama.

Last week, the National Post and about a dozen other Postmedia News newspapers across the country reported, “Canadian activist Maude Barlow is among global environmentalists backing the drive with a book the group will launch in New York during the UN debate… Barlow said of the campaign, ‘It’s going to have huge resonance around the world. It’s going to start first with these southern countries trying to protect their land and their people from exploitation, but I think it will be grabbed onto by communities in our countries, for example, fighting the tarsands in Alberta.’”

Maude’s letter can be read at http://fullcomment.nationalpost.com/2011/04/19/todays-letters-helena-tears-are-not-enough/. Murphy’s column is at http://www.nationalpost.com/news/Rendering+sanity+unto+Earth+goddess/4626055/story.html.