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Spanish Lagoon Granted Right to “Evolve”

Photo: Mar Menor, by Felipe Ortega, CC BY-SA 2.0 , via Wikimedia Commons.

The “nature rights” movement continues to spread — with little resistance because people don’t take it seriously. And that helps the movement go forward.

Now, a saltwater lagoon in Spain, Mar Menor, has been granted personhood and rights. From the Science story:

The new law doesn’t regard the lagoon and its watershed as fully human. But the ecosystem now has a legal right to exist, evolve naturally, and be restored. And like a person, it has legal guardians, including a scientific committee, which will give its defenders a new voice.

If the lagoon has the “right” to “evolve naturally” — and since the right includes all life within it, its shoreline, etc. — theoretically, almost all significant human uses of the waters can be halted by the lawsuits that anyone is now entitled to file to enforce the lagoon’s “rights.”

Not Properly Enforced

The environmental problem in the area that brought this about involves the flow of fertilizers into the water, which has a deleterious impact on mussels and other sea life. That is a problem, to be sure, but it could be addressed with proper regulations — which exist but are apparently not properly enforced.

So, fix that! Moreover, the lagoon didn’t have to be granted rights for a scientific committee to be appointed to recommend proper environmental practices. Indeed, that very approach could have been taken with a proper understanding that granting personhood to a geological feature is both misanthropic and could prevent a properly nuanced approach to environmental regulations that also takes into account human needs.

Steadily Gaining Steam

As I have been documenting here and elsewhere, the nature-rights movement is steadily gaining steam, including in the U.S. And now, apparently, the UK is getting in on the act:

Other nations will be watching. In the United Kingdom, groups are campaigning for the rights of rivers, largely in response to pollution. “It’s genuinely exciting to see a rights of nature campaign succeed in Spain, because it really does show the other European nations what is possible,” says Erin O’Donnell, an expert in environmental law at the University of Melbourne Law School.

But don’t worry. This is not an issue to be taken seriously: It can’t happen. Until it does.

Cross-posted at The Corner.