Yet another one from the vaults ( Oct., 08 ). … I wrote this because it’s the kind of thing that makes me get excited, and yet I realized pretty quick it wasn’t something for the Breakthrough to focus on. You can’t get bogged down in the everyday when you’re trying to write new policy on a national level. And yet, I still wrote about it; because it’s important. Because changing the way we think about our climate is just as important as getting government money approved on a large scale.
In fact, they go hand in hand.
I went through a faze where I thought about washing out all my plastic bags, and I wrestled with throwing away the one that got pasty from a two day old peanut butter sandwich. But that’s not what’s important. The amount of trash one person throws away on a daily basis, if they’re conscious, is miniscule. Think about the world trash situation like examining the contents of one giant hard drive. On one level you’ve got all these individual entries for each family, and sure there’s always some house on the block that just doesn’t give a shit, some family from backwater Texas gull shit USA; and god doesn’t that make you mad enough to go right up to their door and just pelt it with some of the trash they leave lying out for who knows (pack dogs?)? Well…Still, they ain’t nothing compared to Exxon.
You’ve got all these individual entries, the impact of the Joneses, and the Smiths, and the Shapiros and the Lings. But really the big folders are the companies, the places that waste a dumpster of paper a day printing out reports. I used to work for one right off the Watsonville exit in Columbus, Ohio, cleaning their carpets late at night. Some place you’d just pass and not give a second thought. And there are millions of them. The junk mail I open each day at work I should save and build a recycled paper recliner. I could probably have a love seat by now.
I just wish we Americans could pony up some real legislation like this (I mean, if Ecuador can do it, why can’t we?), put our money where our mouth is in terms of our environment and our quality of life and the way our whole system is managed.
Jan 20th? Well, that’s just the beginning…
(photo via Digg)
Ecuador Gives Mother Nature the Vote
A new constitution gives rights to nature and the citizenry, while shoring up the power of the executive.
On September 29th, 2008 the small, economically unstable country of Ecuador voted on its 20th Constitution in the country’s history. In this case, it was not the decision of power-players who held the greatest stake in the argument, nor was it the opinion of the foreign influences––which had helped to craft some of its most radical parts––that mattered. It was a vote left to the people of the nation itself; and in a hugely overwhelming 64% majority these people, many of whom feed their families on less than US $3000 per year, voted not only to protect themselves but also to enshrine (with real dollar amounts) the rights of the soil, air, and water around them.
The historic document grants all citizens of the country the basic right to water, universal healthcare, pensions, and free state-run education through the college level. However, it is the document’s nods to Nature as an independent entity, with rights to be respected just like any man, woman–or corporation, for that matter–that has the rest of the world paying close attention.
“Natural communities and ecosystems possess the unalienable right to exist, flourish and evolve within Ecuador. Those rights shall be self-executing, and it shall be the duty and right of all Ecuadorian governments, communities, and individuals to enforce those rights.”
Spurred by the country’s regard for its many rainforests and the beloved protectorate of the Galpagos Islands, the actual language of the Constitution was drafted with help from an American organization called the Community Enviornmental Legal Defense Fund. A Pennsylvania legal organization, CELDF made its name by empowering several small Appalachian towns with the legal muscle to stop the coal industry in its tracks. (Something a whole lot of people have been trying to do for far too long.) Just how did they do it? By preventing said “environmentally damaging businesses” from beginning operations in the first place; by imposing community-wide bans on the legally equitable grounds of these activities being “environmentally disruptive”; this, in contrast, to the former method of halting corporate development thorough the lengthly (and oftentimes ineffective) legal appeals process. There’s an important couple paragraphs about that here, beginning with “On Oct. 16”)
“Today Ecuador decided to found a new country,” President Correa said Sunday, after nearly 70 percent of Ecuadoreans voted for the new charter. “The old power structures have been defeated.”