Imagining a Future in which the Rights of Nature are a Given

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This was a session at Sol 2014.



  • Ben’s story: village w/ trees growing through the roofs, not cut down because “the forest was here first”
    • Eric: What if half the houses are in ruin and biodegrading gradually?
    • Even have a “dirty house movement” that allows “vermin” into your house
      • Ben: The word “vermin” would presumably be politically incorrect
      • Eric: Or it might have been converted into a neutral-to-positive descriptor, like “queer”
  • Brandon: cloning and reviving old life forms – imagine Jurassic Park where they just leave the dinosaurs to themselves
    • Ben: How big does the island have to be to respect the rights of the ecosystem?
  • Eric: If an invasive species is spreading, do you recognize its right to spread?
    • Ben: My first reaction is that it depends on whether humans caused the invasion or not
    • Eric: But why are human actions special? The biosphere is not a pickle to be preserved in a jar
    • Ben: We need a middle ground between that and “humans can change things however they want”
    • Shelley: Focus the story on how nature needs to evolve to be healthy, and have a hero who initially thinks they’re doing the right thing by preserving what exists
      • Brandon: The hero could realized they killed a baby chipmunk by accident, and then become a shut-in agonizing about the inevitable damage they do
  • Brandon: What if all the people live underground, to avoid impacting the surface ecosystem?
    • Ben (much later): Or in mid-ocean deserts
    • Patrick: Only a subset of people are allowed to live aboveground
  • Eric: In other areas, people have integrated human cities into a forest by training the trees to grow rooms inside them
  • Eric: How do you interact with predators?
    • Ben: the individual predators don’t have rights (because if they and their prey both had rights, we’d have to arrest the predators for "murdering" prey), but the ecosystem service they provide needs to be respected
    • Eric: Currently we don’t allow predators to move through urban areas
      • Ben: Maybe have hovering peace-bots to allow predators to move freely but prevent them from attacking humans, and vice versa
      • Eric: If the rights of nature are assumed, there should be no risk of humans attacking the predators
      • Brandon: But not everyone necessarily agrees with the guiding philosophy of their society
    • Eric: There might be a faction that tries to genetically engineer predators to no longer be predators, despite the ecological problems that would cause
  • Brandon (much later): Maybe all travel is by gliders
    • Ben: Because powered flight is working against the wind? Is a bird’s flapping flight illegal?
    • Brandon: Maybe it’s not such a good idea
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