Cool things

Polly Higgins – The Earth’s Lawyer

I first read about Polly and her work in a Permaculture Magazine article about a year ago. Recently I watched this talk and I’m glad to see she’s still going strong. Her views make so much sense. Basically, she argues that to the list of international Crimes Against Peace like genocide and war crimes should be added one more – ecocide. This is the term she’s given to the extensive destruction of an ecosystem, to such an extent that peaceful enjoyment of it by all inhabitants can no longer continue. (Inhabitants meaning human and non-human).

To me this sounds obvious at first glance – I mean yeah, massive wilful destruction of natural environments should be a crime. But it’s only when you actually really think about it and how it very much isn’t treated as a crime at the moment, that you realise the enormity of Polly’s undertaking. She’s campaigning for the Earth to have rights. That’s huge! She’s saying that not just people and not even just animals, but actual ecosystems have the right to existence. Wow, imagine if those rights were actually written into our laws. That’s what she’s working on. It’s a big task, but she’s been getting lots of media coverage and she’s hugely determined. Also she’s a trained lawyer herself and she’s already organised a mock trail which you can find out more about on her website. In the above talk she speaks of how she was thinking about the environmental destruction going on in the world and how she mused to herself ”the Earth needs a good lawyer…” and from there got to thinking about protecting the Earth in a court of law, and what legal tools she would use in it’s defence. She realised the tools were not there. The Earth does not have legal rights and damaging it is not a punishable crime. She says that ever since then she has been working to change this.

Her website is and has lots of  information about her latest actions and what you can do to help. If the campaign really captures your interest, she’s even written two books, Eradicating Ecocide and Earth is our Business. If ecocide becomes a crime, then actual individuals will be able to be taken to court. For example, if a company causes destruction of a whole ecosystem, the CEO of that company will sit in the court room as a possible criminal. The far reaching effects of this are so big, just think about it.

You may think Polly’s aiming a bit far with all this, and it’s true that there are plenty of people in high places that will oppose it as it’ll effect a lot of corporate affairs and of course the all important ‘status quo’. But what’s the point of aiming low? Much better to aim high and make a big fuss, bursting through the cage of acceptability and allowing others to storm through the gap behind you, making it wider and wider until freedom is all around. Or something like that. My point is, I think Polly is an inspirational woman who’s got it going on and I’m right behind her.



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