Tree-huggers of the world, unite!

A photo of my 23-year-old horse chestnut tree“What if trees had legal standing?” Christopher Stone, an American law lecturer, asked his students in 1971.

A year later, his book Should Trees Have Standing was published.

Professor Stone suggests that the idea of a thing holding legal rights involves, at minimum:

  1. that the thing can institute legal actions at its behest
  2. that in determining the grant of legal relief, the court must take injury to it into account
  3. that relief must run to the benefit of the thing.

Another photo of my horse chestnut (this one from above)Should this be applied to, say, a company that razes a forest to extract fossil fuel, this would entail ensuring:

  1. that a human can seek legal remedy on behalf of the forest
  2. that when determining remedy the court will give proper consideration to the damage, destruction to, or loss of the forest
  3. that the forest benefits from the remedy imposed.

Without benefit of remedy to the forest (or any thing in which rights are vested) nothing is achieved. To fine a company guilty of harming the forest does nothing in terms of restoring the damage caused in the first place. Implicit within Stone’s analysis is the imposition of a duty of care upon the company; the company has to make good the damage, not simply buy its way out of the problem.

The text above is paraphrased from Eradicating Ecocide by Polly Higgins. (I cannot recommend this book highly enough.)

The two photos above are of my little 23-year-old horse chestnut tree, this month. It has no rights at all. (I’m the only one who gives a rat’s arse about it. If I should stop watering it, it will die.)

… Sorry?

“What is ecocide?”

This is ecocide.

About pendantry

Phlyarologist (part-time) and pendant. Campaigner for action against anthropogenic global warming (AGW) and injustice in all its forms. Humanist, atheist, notoftenpist. Wannabe poet, writer and astronaut.
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7 Responses to Tree-huggers of the world, unite!

  1. Keep up the good work… be in touch


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  3. Trees should have legal standing, as should all living things, doesn’t make sense for corporations to be making profits by killing living things. I like your blog. The book looks interesting. Take care of the tree. :)


    • pendantry says:

      I’m with you. How can we stop the corporate steamroller, the one that’s been gaining momentum for years, and is now going full-tilt? I’d do a DentArthurDent and lie down in front of it – if it were a physical bulldozer. It’s a bit hard finding a virtual one :( I hear the people at Just Do It* have some ideas on this front. I’m going to see their new film next month (it’s showing at the Arts Picturehouse in Cambridge 18-21 July).

      Hmm… which book are you talking about that looks interesting? I’ve read Eradicating Ecocide**, I haven’t yet read Should Trees Have Standing. So much to do, so little time…

      Thanks for the visit, and especially for the encouraging worms!

      * Sadly that website’s currently giving me a 500 internal server error at present :( Blerdy machines!
      ** Eradicating Ecocide is very interesting. Polly Higgins points out that a ‘5th Crime Against Peace’ was being discussed after World War II, but it just didn’t happen then (I wonder why?) – and I found it illuminating that she says we’re now seeing history repeat itself from a hundred years ago: industry digging its heels in against attempts to curtail its misbehaviour; the government dithering — and then World War I made the entire subject of pollution a tad, well, academic, really. I just hope the ‘World War’ part isn’t going to be repeated too…


  4. Pingback: A response to an eco-humynist manifesto for the 21st century | Wibble

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