Natural Resources

Fall 2011 Natural Resources Law Class at UB

Should the Earth have rights? September 28, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — Nicole @ 12:14 am

During our discussion of Justice Douglas’s dissent in the Sierra Club v. Morton case, it was mentioned that there are countries that have actually granted nature – both animate and inanimate components of ecosystems – legal rights. This intrigued me, and I looked up which countries those were. Apparently, Ecuador was the first nation in the world to grant nature legal rights, when it added a “nature” provision to its constitution in 2008. This provision has not been enacted in law yet, but has led to a successful decision granting an injunction in favor of the Vilcabamba river. Bolivia has followed suit, passing a more comprehensive law in 2010, which established 7 rights for mother nature, including “the right to live free of pollution including toxic and radioactive waste,” “the right to life including the integrity of ecosystems and natural processes, and the necessary conditions for regeneration,” and others. This law will eventually be expanded to include 11 rights, which are not yet finalized. An article on the subject can be found here:

Turkey wishes to follow the example of Ecuador and Bolivia and a group of 40 politicians, academics and lawyers have started to consider drafting a similar provision to be incorporated into the constitution. The provision would include the following principles, among others: “defining humans as a part of their natural environment and acknowledging that other species have rights in accordance with their role in the system,” and that “the economic system should be socially fair and ecologically sustainable.”

A full article on Turkey’s proposition can be found here:




A Decrease in Immigration? September 17, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — Nicole @ 2:03 am

An interesting article was posted in the New York Times, reporting on the fact that immigration from Mexico to the United states is actually decreasing and had reached an all-time low in 2009 (see: This change to the increase in educational opportunities and decreased family size in Mexico, among other factors. In addition, border violence, and the legal climate in the United States contributed as well, and it is difficult to tell which factor is controlling in the overall effect. It would be interesting to know which is predominant.


The Question of Population

Filed under: Uncategorized — Nicole @ 1:47 am

As we embark upon the discussion of natural resources, and consider their uses, economic importance, need for protection and other issues, I feel like it may be interesting to take a look at one issue that usually goes unnoticed – that of the relationship between any region’s natural resources and its population. It is quite clear that an increase in population – either through birth or immigration – can have a significant, almost decisive impact on the management of specific resources.

The topic of immigration is discussed in our nation ad nauseam, however the topic of a growing global population does not come quite up as often, because it is seen as inhumane to mandate any type of legal population control. However, the issue of population is important, and can be dealt with in humane ways. How do different nations cope with this issue?

There are methods that come to mind right away, like China’s population control policies embodied directly in the law. China’s laws may be the most severe to date, however it is not the only country that tries to incorporate the question of population into its policies. Scientists at the Harvard School of Public Health have compiled a list of the approaches taken by other nations to address the issue of a growing population (see:

Many nations on the list take the approach of education and social reform. Vietnam stresses the impact of local leadership and empowering grass-roots organizations to educate local families and women about family planning choices, while at the same time improving the quality of life and health care that the families receive. The policy undertaken by Ecuador stresses the interplay of population policies and their impact on social and economic development, as well as the environmental health of the nation, and also stresses more educational policies such as an the promotion of the idea that family planning will improve quality of life. This increase in quality of life will partially be due to increased access to natural resources, but the policies of these two nations emphasize that this should be a choice the population makes, and that it is possible for people to make that choice, when given the opportunity.