To Fend Off Emerging Threats, Evironmental Protections Need a Revamp

The environmental awakening of the 1970s led to landmark federal laws that have helped heal our natural systems. The growing “Rights of Nature” movement seeks to create new protections to respond to emerging ecological threats.
April 22, 2013, 2pm PDT | Jonathan Nettler | @nettsj
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"With Earth Day around the corner, it’s a good time to step back and see how we’ve been doing since the first Earth Day in 1970, when 20 million people took to the streets to protest rivers on fire, DDT-poisoned birds, sewage on beaches, and a devastating oil spill off the pristine Santa Barbara coast," writes Terry Tamminen.

"Since those early days, we have improved sewage treatment plants and banned DDT, but new threats to human and environmental health are mounting – pollution from hydraulic fracking, leaking oil pipelines, nuclear disasters, and other localized impacts on communities." Add in global climate change and you have a recipe for a “transition of the Earth’s ecosystems into a state unknown in human experience.”

"These new and very visible threats are igniting a fresh grassroots call for more action that is commensurate with such challenges in ways the existing laws seem unprepared to address," says Tamminen. "Enter the 'Rights of Nature' movement," an expansion of environmental protections that has been adopted in Bolivia, Ecuador, and over three-dozen U.S. municipalities.

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Published on Friday, April 19, 2013 in Fast Company Co.Exist
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