Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Today Is Earth Day

I’ll let Robert F. Kennedy Jr. do the talking.

From The Bobby Lobby by Amanda Griscom:

On the environment:

The environment is the most important, the most fundamental, civil-rights issue. In the word ecology, the root "eco" is the Greek word for home. It's really about how we manage our home. The environmental movement is a struggle over the control of the commons -- the publicly owned resources, the things that cannot be reduced to private property -- the air, the water, the wandering animals, the public land, the wildlife, the fisheries. The things that from the beginning of time have always been part of the public trust.
On how environmentalism didn’t begin with Earth Day:
Environmentalism didn't begin on Earth Day. It's been recognized for thousands of years as a basic human right. The code of Justinian for the first time outlined environmental rights as essentially fundamental rights. If you were a citizen of Rome, you had an absolute right to cross a beach to catch a fish. The emperor himself couldn't stop you. In England, in the 13th century, they had a clean air act. It was illegal to burn coal in London. It was a capital crime and people were executed for it.

When Roman law broke down in Europe during the Dark Ages, a lot of the feudal kings began reasserting control over the public-trust resources. For example, in England, King John began selling monopolies to the fisheries and he said the deer belonged to nobility. The public rose up and confronted him at the Battle of Runnymede and forced him to sign the Magna Carta, which of course was the beginning of constitutional government. In addition to having virtually all of our Bill of Rights, the Magna Carta has two other chapters on free access to fisheries in navigable waters. And those rights descended to the people in the States when we had the revolution. And virtually every state constitution says the people of the state own the waters and the fisheries, the wildlife, the air. They're not owned by the governor, the legislature, the corporations. Nobody has a right to use them in a way that will diminish or injure their use and enjoyment by others.
Environmentalism shouldn’t end with Earth Day, either.

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