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Christopher Stone’s Proposal Of Rights For Trees

Photo courtesy of NY TIMES

Christopher D. Stone, also known as the father of environmental Law from the School of Law of the University of South California, opined for the rights of nature. He was the professor of Law who championed the fundamental rights of nature. Christopher Stone suggested that natural objects such as trees, oceans, rivers, and others should possess fundamental human rights just as humans. He felt the need for the right of nature to be upheld. His opinion earned some attention at the U.S. Supreme Court in the early ’70s, which engineered the recognition of the environmental movement.

The Proposal for the Rights of Trees by Christopher Stone.

In the year 1972, Christopher Stone published an article titled “Should Trees Have Standing? — Toward Legal Rights for Natural Objects.” In this article, he proposed that oceans, rivers, forests, and other natural objects should have legal rights embedded in the Law. He added that these natural objects should have a recognized guardian that would ensure fairness upon nature. The basis for his proposal was to make natural objects legally considered.

What Led to Christopher Stone’s Article for Rights for Trees?

There was a case that led to stones article on the rights of trees. The Sierra Club sued for the proposed $35 million Walt Disney resort that was supposed to be built in the Mineral King Valley of California Sierra Nevada. Stone felt this move was detrimental to natural objects because many trees would go down for this cause, as they do not have any rights written by Law to their defense.

When the case got to the US Supreme Court, the justices were faced with the question of whether or not the Sierra Club had a standing. 3/4 Justices stood in for the rights of the Sierra Club. The argument was that if there wasn’t any direct threat to others, then there was no cause for alarm.

This argument developed the need for Christopher D. Stone to write the article “Should Trees Have Standing? — Toward Legal Rights for Natural Objects.” This article caught the attention of many people, including environmental scholars, lawyers, and so on, leading Stone into expanding his article into a book.

The Aim for Proposing the Rights of Trees.

Christopher D. Stone’s aims for writing a book on proposing the rights of trees were numerous.

First of all, it widened the perception of humans and their interaction with the natural environment. Second, it was aimed at given humans a different approach in their relationship with nature and all its objects.

He argued that since other non-salient entities such as unborn children, corporations, and so on are given rights in Law, natural objects should have rights too.

Just like children, Stone also suggested guardian rights for trees. In addition, he proposed the establishment of trust funds for these natural objects where damage claims may be paid.

Reversing the case, Stone admitted that natural objects such as water floods and forest bush fire could cause damage to others. Therefore, as entities holding rights, the natural objects should also have limitations and restrictions to what they can do.

Although Christopher D. Stone’s proposal about the right of trees gained and is still gaining ground, his postulations triggered humor among people. As a result, over the years, many countries have enacted laws in light of the rights of natural objects.

Trees, amongst other natural objects, are living things and, as such, deserve some rights for their protection.

 

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