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What Does Granting “Rights” to Nature Really Do?

If everything has rights, nothing does really
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This article is reprinted from National Review with the permission of the author.

Good grief. Jackson, Wyo. — the Tetons are my favorite place in the world — just approved a “rights of nature” resolution. It includes everything that exists. From the Buckrail story:

On Monday, July 1, the Town of Jackson passed a resolution to recognize and uphold the rights of nature.

The Town Council defined nature as “the physical world and everything in it, including plants, animals, mountains, rivers and other features and products of the earth.”

This is nonsense. If everything has rights, nothing does really. And it’s a resolution, not an ordinance, meaning it has no legal enforceability. This is just virtue signaling.

More germane to human uses of the magnificent beauty that is Jackson and the Tetons, do the trees have a right not to be cut down? If not, why not?

If so, let’s grandfather this resolution and allow those wonderful ski slopes that bring so much revenue into the town to return to their natural state as a forest on the mountain, as is, apparently, their inherent right!


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.

What Does Granting “Rights” to Nature Really Do?