Get Ready for Mother Earth Day
As the twentieth century had been called the “century of human rights,” this new era would be known as the “century of the rights of Mother Earth.”
- Evo Morales, President of Bolivia
You might ask why, since Earth Day – designated as April 22 in 1970 – is now celebrated in many countries, and from the 1970s on many countries passed environmental laws.
The answer is that worldwide, oil, natural gas, coal extraction and thermal energy production has accelerated, with fossil fuel use contributing to global warming. Most national governments collaborate with the multinational energy corporations or simply look the other way when it comes to environmental destruction, human rights and public health abuses, appropriation of land, and the waste and contamination of water that causes sickness and death.
As much of the world’s untapped oil, gas and mineral wealth lies beneath indigenous lands, no community is safe from energy exploitation.
Bolivian President Evo Morales’ resolution is part of a growing movement to redefine people’s relationship with nature by asserting that nature is not just an object to be appropriated and exploited for profit, but is rather a rights-bearing entity that should be treated with parity under the law.
In the U.S., Thomas Linzey has exposed how environmental laws only “regulate” how much harm is permitted. He has helped many communities in Pennsylvania, Virginia, New Hampshire and Maine draft and pass “Rights of Nature” laws, asserting community rights over corporate rights (which just end up harming the local environment with shopping-mall development, cement factories, coal mining, and water exporting, for example).
Ecuador, working with Linzey, was the first country in the world to recognize the “Rights of Nature” as part of their new constitution, approved by 65 percent of the people in Sept. 2008. Bolivia followed in early 2009.
At the United Nations, Morales stated unequivocally: “Until now, we humans have been prisoners of the forces of developmental capitalism that places the man as the absolute owner of the Planet. The time has come to recognize the earth does not belong to us, but that we belong to the earth. Our mission on earth is to keep watch over the rights of not only human beings, but also the rights of Mother Earth and all living beings.” He challenged the U.N.-member countries to form a consensus on the Universal Declaration on the Rights of Mother Earth.
Let’s plan now for WILPF to celebrate the first Mother Earth Day on April 22, 2010!