The Mississippi's orphan tears

Posted in: Comment, News and Updates

The NAEE blog, on March 16th and March 24th, carried stories about rivers getting legal status as people.  The rivers in question were the Whanganui river in New Zealand and the Ganges and Yamuna rivers in India.

The March 24th post cited an Economist feature on both these developments, and quoted how the article ended:

Days after the law passed, an Indian court declared two of the biggest and most sacred rivers in India, the Ganges and Yamuna, to be people too.  Making explicit reference to the Whanganui settlement, the court assigned legal “parents” to protect and conserve their waters.  Local lawyers think the ruling might help fight severe pollution: the rivers’ defenders will no longer have to prove that discharges into them harm anyone, since any sullying of the waters will now be a crime against the river itself.  There is no doubt that of the 1.3bn-odd people in India, the Ganges and the Yamuna must be among the most downtrodden.

Will this idea spread, I wonder?  Perhaps even to the USA where the Mississippi has surely cried enough orphan tears for rivers everywhere.  Giving it First Amendment rights as well would seem in order.  After all, the US deems corporations to have legal rights as people, so why not rivers?  Sadly, I suspect that expensive lawyers are already queuing for two blocks for a chance to ridicule this idea.

Posted in: Comment, News and Updates


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