Red deer stag between ferns in autumn forest.
Red deer stag between ferns in autumn forest.
Humanize From Discovery Institute's Center on Human Exceptionalism

The Law Society in U.K. Endorses ‘Nature Rights’

Originally published at National Review

The nature-rights movement continues to move from the fringe into decidedly establishment circles, with virtually no push back and a foolish, “It will never happen here,” shrugging of the collective shoulders. Now, the U.K.’s Law Society — the organization that represents solicitors, roughly equivalent to the ABA — has issued a report calling for the establishment of nature and non-human rights.

First, the report clearly attacks human exceptionalism — the backbone of Western liberty — and criticizes what it calls (can you believe it?) the “binary of the species hierarchy.” Yes, transgender ideology and other critical theories have entered the environmentalist sphere. (Notice the woke gibberishy writing style.) From, “Law in the Emerging Bio-Age“:

Some argue that in the current system human rights are not properly protected or balanced. If taxonomies like the species hierarchy are important in allocating rights, then we need to think about how bio body hackers who make extreme physical changes, biorobots, human-animal chimerae, and autonomous robots will be treated.

We already see that transgender people and people with different characteristics are ‘othered’ and the effect of negative societal responses to body changes clearly links to the ‘cute or repulsive’ binary of the species hierarchy.

In other words, we should redefine our self-understanding as being just another species in the forest.

Never mind that only humans have moral obligations and can be called to account for failing to meet our responsibilities. Nature rights will cure the injustice of human exceptionalism (my emphasis):

Rights for nonhumans communicates our dependence on and a greater role for nature in decision-making.

Stop the quote! “Nature” and/or animals wouldn’t have a “greater role in decision making.” Radical environmentalist or animal-rights ideologues would. Back to the quote:

The process and execution of a nonhuman rights-based framework in international and local law may differ radically from a human rights-based approach. For example, if rights were granted to nonhumans or living systems, then questions of liability for damage to the environment, such as climate change or biodiversity loss, arise

In other words, granting rights to non-humans would be a cornucopia for lawyers since these laws allow anyone to bring lawsuits to enforce nature’s purported rights, which the Law Society well understands:

If rights were granted to nonhumans or living systems, then questions of liability for damage to the environment, such as climate change or biodiversity loss, arise in relation to the causal link between the damage and the person/entity causing it; attribution of liability; calculation of damages and so on.

Lawsuits without end! (Oh joy, rapture!) Not to mention transactional legal and lobbying opportunities for the horde of lawyers pursing the rights of nature and non-humans:

Beyond litigation against responsible parties, other concerns to consider are investor pressure, public procurement rules, financial, institution decisions, and reputation-focused campaigns by civil society

The report also targets biotechnology and other areas of innovation for assault by nature-rights extremists. Its scope and breadth would severely limit cutting-edge science and industrial development.

When a venerable law society embraces non-human rights, it is time to pay attention. If people and lawmakers don’t take this threat to our collective economic wellbeing and personal freedom seriously, within a few years, we will be seeing serious public-policy impacts from this radical agenda throughout the West.

In this regard, let me ask a serious question: Is there any chance China would grant “rights” to nature when they have no regard for those of humans? The very notion is ludicrous. If this trend continues, we will be unilaterally snuffing our economies as China’s grows. To say the least, that would not bode well for the great civilizational contest developing between Western democracies and the evil tyrants of Beijing.

Wesley J. Smith

Chair and Senior Fellow, Center on Human Exceptionalism
Wesley J. Smith is Chair and Senior Fellow at the Discovery Institute’s Center on Human Exceptionalism. Wesley is a contributor to National Review and is the author of 14 books, in recent years focusing on human dignity, liberty, and equality. Wesley has been recognized as one of America’s premier public intellectuals on bioethics by National Journal and has been honored by the Human Life Foundation as a “Great Defender of Life” for his work against suicide and euthanasia. Wesley’s most recent book is Culture of Death: The Age of “Do Harm” Medicine, a warning about the dangers to patients of the modern bioethics movement.