The Rights of Nature: Saving the Planet or Harmful to Humanity?

Proponents of the rights of nature argue that the environmental regulatory system – which treats nature as merely property to be owned – has failed to protect nature and our own life support systems, and that a radical change in the law is needed which re-positions humanity in the role of a guardian or trustee of the best interests of those natural systems. Opponents of this approach see recognizing the rights of nature as inappropriate and ultimately demeaning to the special dignity of the human person – undermining a rights-based system of law which makes humans exceptional. 

The leading proponent and opponent will come together to debate this important issue. Thomas Linzey, senior legal counsel at the Center for Democratic and Environmental Rights (CDER), is widely recognized as the founder of the contemporary “community rights” and “rights of nature” movements, which have resulted in the adoption of several hundred municipal laws across the United States. Wesley J. Smith, chair and senior fellow and the Discovery Institute’s Center on Human Exceptionalism, has published thousands of articles, columns, and opinion pieces on issues pertaining to the moral importance of human life, addressing the entire spectrum of bioethical issues relating to conscience, patient protection, eugenics, suicide, transhumanism, medical ethics, and law and policy.

This event will be recorded and posted to the Climate Center's YouTube channel.