Download: Fast, Fun, Awesome
study in australia
student information in australia
Australian University graduate information
professional networking for australian university students
employment links for australian university students
University quizzes for australian students

What would happen if Mother Nature could sue?

A Southern Cross University law academic will team-up with one of the world’s leading experts in environmental governance to discuss what would happen ‘If Mother Nature Could Sue’ at the Festival of Dangerous Ideas at the Sydney Opera House. Dr Alessandro Pelizzon, of the School of Law and Justice’s Earth Laws Network, will be joined by Cormac Cullinan, author, practising environmental solicitor and environmental governance expert from South Africa, in a session on September 30.

The pair are leaders in the field of Earth Jurisprudence or Wild Law, a new legal theory that, among other things, advocates the recognition of rights to nature. This area of law originated back in 1972, when Professor Christopher Stone advanced the idea that natural, non-human entities such as trees, rivers, lakes and animals could be granted legal standing or, in other words, rights similar to those of humans and legal constructs such as corporations.

“Professor Stone suggested that conferring rights on nature may help to protect the environment from relatively unchecked human exploitation,” Dr Pelizzon said.

“His theory was innovative in that it defined injury not merely in human terms but also in regards to nature. This new biocentric or ecocentric perspective thus challenged the anthropocentric views of traditional jurisprudence, which sees humans as the only entities worthy of legal protection.

“Stone’s biocentric perspective, instead, views humans as parts of a more complex system in need of legal protection just as strongly as its individual human elements.”

Professor Stone’s theories were further developed by ecotheologian Thomas Berry, who proposed a new framework for law termed ‘Earth Jurisprudence’. This philosophy is predicated upon the idea that since humans are part of an interrelated and interdependent community of beings and phenomena, the continuous wellbeing of each member of this community is connected to and dependent on the wellbeing of the community as a whole. In short, it proposed our legal system needs to be earth-centred rather than human-centred by recognising non-human entities as holders of intrinsic and inalienable rights.

Mr Cullinan’s book, Wild Law, has built on the theories of Berry and Stone to the extent that some communities have now granted and enacted legal rights to nature. These include Tamaqua Borough, in Pennsylvania, that granted ecosystems legal rights in 2006, enabling residents to file a lawsuit on its behalf. Ecuador followed shortly after including nature as a subject of rights in its Constitution in 2008, and in 2011 a court action in defence of the Vilcabamba River was successful against the Municipality of Loja who intended to build a road to the detriment of the river. Bolivia has also enacted similar legislation in 2010, while New Zealand has recently signed a preliminary agreement to give the Whanganui River a legal voice.

“Australia is increasingly becoming a strong advocate of the principles proposed by Earth Jurisprudence and the rights of nature discourse,” Dr Pelizzon said.

Media contact: Steve Spinks, media officer, Southern Cross University Gold Coast and Tweed Heads, 07 5589 3024 or 0417 288 794.

Leave a reply

Feature Research
Controlling fear by modifying DNA

For many people, fear of flying or of spiders skittering across the lounge room floor is more than just a [more]

Kidney disease gene controls cancer highway

University of Queensland researchers have discovered that a gene that causes kidney disease also controls growth of the lymphatic system, [more]

Queensland fraud is a billion dollar business

Queensland businesses could be losing over $12 billion per annum as a result of company fraud according to a recent study [more]

Inside the mind of a burglar

Burglars are opportunistic, generally choose their targets at random and know all the tricks householders try to use as deterrents, [more]

Flight experiment goes boldly forth to advance new technology

A hypersonic flight experiment at eight times the speed of sound, led by a University of Queensland PhD student, has [more]

Pre-drinking alcohol before hitting the nightclubs likely to lead to violence

The increasingly common practice of drinking at home before hitting the nightclubs is the major predictor of people experiencing harm [more]

Research reveals women are more interested in a man’s earning capacity than the size of his wallet

Despite ABBA’s insistence that women long for “money, money, money”, research has found that The Beatles were on the [more]

Challenges still face women seeking seniority in business

Research conducted by the UTS Centre for Corporate Governance underpinning the 2012 Australian Census of Women in Leadership reveals a decade [more]

Swiss Army Knife teeth secret to seal’s success

Biologists have shown how an advanced set of teeth give Antarctic leopard seals the biological tools to feast on prey [more]

Beautiful physics: Tying knots in light

New research published today seeks to push the discovery that light can be tied in knots to the next level. [more]