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Now, It’s “Personhood” for Glaciers

Wesley J. Smith


Environmentalism is going mad. In the process, it’s becoming dangerous to human thriving and to our metaphysical self perception.

Last week, I wrote about rivers being declared “persons.” Now in India, glaciers have been similarly declared to be “living entities.” Specifically, a court has declared that rivers of ice have the “rights” of legal persons. From the Humanosphere story:

Less than three weeks ago, New Zealand granted similar status to a river — the Whanganui. Just days later on March 20, India followed suit for the Ganga and Yamuna rivers.

Now the Gangotri and Yamunotri glaciers as well as waterfalls, forests, lake, meadows and other environmental features in the area have all been granted legal rights as “living entities.”

The glaciers are among the largest in the Himalayas and feed into the Ganga and Yamuna rivers. However, they are receding at an “alarming rate,” the judges said according to Press Trust of India, with the Gangotri glacier shrinking more than 2,800 feet in about 25 years.

“The rights of these entities shall be equivalent to the rights of human beings and any injury or harm caused to these bodies shall be treated as injury or harm caused to human beings,” Uttarakhand’s highest court said in its ruling, according to AFP.

This is anti-science. Glaciers are physical phenomenon. They are not alive.

But who cares, right? Post-modernism strikes a beat, into your life it will seep. Narratives rule now.

So, do the glaciers have the “right” not to melt? Will the glaciers thus be able to sue to prevent human actions that might be perceived to cause melting or otherwise impact the ice, boulders, rocks, and dirt that make up glaciers?

Can the trees sue not to be cut? Can ponds sue not to be drained?

Understand that the “rights” of glaciers will be “enforced” by appointed committees made up of people of a particular ideological bent. Human exceptionalists need not apply.

Worse, many of the “nature rights” laws passed in the U.S. — more than 30 municipalities have such statutes and ordinances — actually empower anyone to litigate on behalf of nature.

Actually, such suits would be brought by zealots hell-bent on impeding development and the exploitation of natural resources, and as a means of subverting capitalistic enterprise. Nature itself has nothing to do with it.

This isn’t something to just roll our eyes over and cluck, “What will they think of next?” It is highly subversive. If “nature” has rights, everything in the world does — flora, fauna, microscopic, geological, gasses, everything.

That sucks the power and meaning from the crucial concept of “rights” — just as a spider sucks out the juice of a fly.

It also means that human beings cannot be considered of unique or special value. Our lives cannot be said to have greater meaning. Our needs and desires are redefined as no more important than those of the birds and the bees and the honey and trees, or the moon up above.

For more about what is going on here — and why — see my The War on Humans.

Photo: Gangotri glacier, by Anshulsawant [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons.

Cross-posted at The Corner.

Wesley J. Smith

Chair and Senior Fellow, Center on Human Exceptionalism
Wesley J. Smith is Chair and Senior Fellow at the Discovery Institute’s Center on Human Exceptionalism. Wesley is a contributor to National Review and is the author of 14 books, in recent years focusing on human dignity, liberty, and equality. Wesley has been recognized as one of America’s premier public intellectuals on bioethics by National Journal and has been honored by the Human Life Foundation as a “Great Defender of Life” for his work against suicide and euthanasia. Wesley’s most recent book is Culture of Death: The Age of “Do Harm” Medicine, a warning about the dangers to patients of the modern bioethics movement.



Athwart Historyethicsglacierhuman exceptionalismnature rightspost-modernism