Tag Archives: Tribunal

What would the Delta Say? Putting California’s Twin Tunnels on Trial

BARONA logo BARoNA-logo



Shannon Biggs, Movement Rights (415) 841-2998 shannon@movementrights.org

Linda Sheehan,  Earth Law Center (510) 219-7730 lsheehan@earthlaw.org

 Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla, Restore the Delta(209) 479-2053, barbara@restorethedelta.org


California’s Proposed Twin Tunnels Case to be Heard

 th-1Antioch, CA – “What would the San Francisco Bay-Delta ecosystem say?” is the question a panel of judges will consider when examining a case brought before them in the first-ever Bay Area Rights of Nature Tribunal based on an international rights of nature tribunal held in Paris during the climate talks last December. It’s a question gaining ground as dozens of U.S. and international communities and a handful of countries have begun recognizing rights and legal standing for ecosystems as a new framework for environmental protection. The tribunal will be held on April 30 at the Nick Rodriguez Community Center in Antioch, CA 9:30 AM-2 PM.

iur  The case being brought before the tribunal address nature’s, community, and human rights violations presented by Governor Brown’s water policies, and particularly his proposed Twin Tunnel plan, which would significantly reduce flows needed for Delta waterways and fish. The tribunal is being put on by the Bay Area Rights of Nature Alliance (BARONA) —a network of organizations seeking to explore how recognizing legal standing for ecosystems can put new governance tools in the hands of communities.

save_the_delta_-_stop_the_tunnels_1In addition to detailing rights violations, Tribunal witnesses and experts will also offer solutions to water flow and economic development challenges that protect, not injure, human and nature’s rights. “We are pleased to work with BARONA to make the case for the San Francisco Bay-Delta,” says Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla, executive director for Restore the Delta, a group that has been working to fight the governor’s plan and support sound water alternatives.“The Delta is an imperiled national treasure — a home for wildlife, fisheries, and human culture. After 30 years of over-pumping, the Delta Tunnels proposal would complete the destruction of the largest estuary on the west coast of the Americas. Those who view the Delta as simply another water source to be drained are in for a fight. The people and wildlife of the Delta will not be erased.”

“The proposed project not only violate nature’s rights and human rights, but also illustrates that our laws legalize such harms,” adds Linda Sheehan of the Earth Law Center. “This Tribunal is about confronting a system of laws that places people and nature in harm’s way, and demonstrating a new way forward.”

Judges for the tribunal include: renowned eco-philosopher Joanna Macy, governmental liaison for the Winnemem Wintu tribe Gary Mulcahy, Movement Rights director, Shannon Biggs and others to be  confirmed.

Rights of nature is a global movement that has been named one of the Top Ten Grassroots Movements Taking on the World by Shift Magazine. International Tribunals in Paris, Lima and Quito have recognized nature’s rights, as has the Pope and other leading figures. “Rather than treating nature as property under the law, rights of nature acknowledges that the ecosystem—in this case the Delta itself—is a rights-bearing entity,” concluded Shannon Biggs, Director of Movement Rights, a group that assists California communities pass laws that place the rights of communities and ecosystems above corporate interests. “Mendocino County and Santa Monica have already recognized these rights in order to ban fracking and develop sustainability initiatives.”

This event is free and open to the public, but will require an RSVP. Donations encouraged. Please mark your calendars and join the growing movement for nature’s rights


MovementRigts-Colour-sq-ncMovement Rights promotes community, indigenous, and nature’s rights. Movement Rights is a fiscally sponsored project of the Oakland Institute. We are supported by individual donations and small foundation grants.  Please consider supporting our work and joining our list serve to keep up to date on the movement for rights-based change.   Thank you!

Exceeding Earth’s Limits

The following is a guest blog, written by Suzanne York.

Yanacocha gold mine in Cajamarca, Peru [photo credit: Jeffrey Bury]

The world is headed towards a “danger zone,” as it is passing a number of planetary boundaries that could destabilize the earth, according to yet another study by an international group of scientists.

While your average citizen is probably not even aware of the concept of planetary boundaries, it should be a cause of concern that human beings have pushed the planet across four of nine environmental boundaries.  Nor should this be a surprise, given the current state of the climate and global environment.

The Effects of Human Actions

The study, titled Planetary boundaries: Guiding human development on a changing planet, was published last week in the journal Science.  According to the report abstract, “The planetary boundaries framework defines a safe operating space for humanity based on the intrinsic biophysical processes that regulate the stability of the Earth System.”

The four boundaries are climate change, biodiversity loss, changes in land use, and alteration of biogeochemical cycles (due to use of the nutrients phosphorus and nitrogen). The five other boundaries not yet crossed are ozone depletion, ocean acidification, freshwater use, microscopic particles in the atmosphere and chemical pollution.  If humanity continues on the path of business as usual/inaction, it’s just a matter of time before these boundaries are exceeded.

Click to enlarge [image credit: http://www.stockholmresilience.org/21/research/research-news/1-15-2015-planetary-boundaries-2.0—new-and-improved.html]
 Will Steffen, affiliated with the Australian National University and the Stockholm Resilience Center and the lead author of the paper, said that “What the science has shown is that human activities — economic growth, technology, consumption — are destabilizing the global environment.”

We can bury our heads in the sand and refuse to see the signs, but the signs are everywhere.  Just last month, the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) reported 22,413 species deemed at risk of extinction.  Science also published a study in 2014 that deemed human impacts on animal biodiversity are “an under-recognized form of global environmental change.”  And of course, 2014 was also the hottest year on record.

Changing the Course

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Casey Camp-Horinek at the Lima Rights of Nature Tribunal [photo credit: Shannon Biggs]
Despite the dire news, there is actually much we can do to reduce deleterious human impacts on the planet, from investing in clean energy to supporting alternative economic systems to simply empowering people to lead healthier lives.  (Even The Economist understands how solar is transforming the lives of hundreds of millions of people.)

And what about nature?  There is a growing rights of nature movement that is trying to change how we look at nature and shift the view from one of exploitation to one of respect.  During the UN climate negotiations in Lima last December, the Global Alliance for Rights of Nature held a tribunal that put the current global system on trial.   While essentially a “mock trial,” it was a serious event, as participants had first-hand experience of being exploited by the global economy that feeds on growth.  And some have faced death threats for fighting to protect their communities and environment.  One indigenous leader from Ecuador was killed just days before he was to appear at the tribunal due to his activism against mining in the Amazon.

This is the system that is shoving the world past so many planetary boundaries – mining, fracking, tar sands extraction, oil drilling, deforestation –  pushing us to the brink because of insatiable human demand for natural resources.

At the Lima Rights of Nature Tribunal, Casey Camp-Horinek, an indigenous activist from the Ponca Nation in Oklahoma, stated what too many people tend to forget, that “Mother earth is a living organism as truly as we are.  [We need to] set our human egos aside and recognize the sacred relationship we have with… the biosphere of earth.”

Let’s take action now, for as the longer the world waits to seriously address enormous global problems, the more difficult it will be to stem the tide.  At the very least, we should be thinking about the rights of all future generations to inherit a livable world.

Johan Rockstrom, another of the study’s authors and an environmental science professor at Stockholm University, put it well – “Just because we are not seeing a collapse today doesn’t mean we are not subjecting humanity to a process that could lead to catastrophic outcomes over the next century.”

It’s time to take our heads out of the sand.

Suzanne York is a senior writer with the Institute for Population Studies in Berkeley, CA. 250_slyphoto2

 Her work is focused on the interconnectedness of population growth with women’s empowerment, human rights, consumption, alternative economies, and the environment. Suzanne She is the author of several reports, including Peoples’ RightsPlanet’s Rights: Holistic Approaches to a Sustainable Population and Prioritizing the PHE Approach: Linking Population, Health, and Environment for a Better World. As research director with the International Forum on Globalization, she was a contributing author to Paradigm Wars: Indigenous Peoples’ Resistance to Economic Globalization.
She is a founding member of the Bay Area Rights of Nature Alliance, a wilderness lover, a dog blogger, and a good friend of Movement Rights.

Original link to blog – http://populationgrowth.org/exceeding-earths-limits/