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the "human" rights of rivers, lakes, etc  RSS feed

 
gardener
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I read this article this morning:  https://globalnews.ca/news/4984010/nature-bill-of-rights-lake-erie/

I've read before that this was done in India for the Ganges, and has been done in New Zealand, but are there pros and cons?

For Lake Erie, if only people would restore wetlands that have been drained, and build artificial wetlands to suck up the excess nutrients running off farms, septic fields and sewage treatment outfalls, the algae problems and dead spots would be ameliorated and if they harvested some of the biomass produced by this, they could actually make good compost or bio-fuels out of it. Apparently, cattails grow really fast on sewage outflow, and make really good methane which can then be used for heating houses etc (Alcohol Can Be a Gas - David Blume). Cattails grown from nitrogen on  farms that is currently running off, could be composted to reduce the use of fertilizers. Alternatively, small wood-lots in key spots could be used for a coppicing operation for firewood, fence posts etc while sucking up the extra nitrogen from household septic beds before it even reaches the wetland.

In other words, instead of spending time and money on the bill of rights, spend that time and money on actually fixing the problem! In Permaculture words: make the problem part of the solution. Of course the biggest problem is spreading the word in a way that people on the spot will implement those solutions. Do people here on Permies think that a Bill of Rights will accomplish that, or are there better ways?
 
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I'm right there with you, but there's one problem that will make sure this never works - enforcement cost money, and the government we have can't force us to proactively do things - they can STOP us from doing things, or make us pay for our mistakes(so, sentencing proven polluters to work in, or pay for, wetland rejuvenation might work, but nitrogen runoff has to be illegal first - also hard and expensive to enforce), but they don't have the authority to COMPEL the populace to act in a positive way.

~90% of green programs/charities are spending money to educate/encourage the populace to act on their own volition - also proving not to be cost-effective(although still good )

If we can craft LAWS that don't need expensive enforcement to work, or can free up FUNDS to pay for the actual work, then we have a way forward.

I know I would gladly work (a true living wage) in reforestation, wetland rejuvenation, or invasive species control. but I can't afford to do it for free. "I got kids to feed"
 
Dustin Rhodes
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The other option is to make that Cattail methane production idea and turn it into a profit-viable business and/or machine; providing  financial incentive to others to take advantage of this resource, without it "costing" any money.
 
Dustin Rhodes
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After reading the article again, the law will probably do some good, if passed; it may lead to a certain percentage of violators to stop certain actions on their own accord, without enforcement or lawsuit needing to take place.

a reduction is better than doing nothing

(Also, Jay, sorry for monopolizing this thread and being a "debbie-downer")
 
Jay Angler
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Dustin Rhodes wrote:

The other option is to make that Cattail methane production idea and turn it into a profit-viable business and/or machine; providing  financial incentive to others to take advantage of this resource, without it "costing" any money.

Exactly! A number of companies and even countries have discovered that being environmentally responsible actually ends up helping the "bottom line". They thought they were just, as Paul would say, "doing the light bulb thing", only to discover that even if the actual cost wasn't directly covered, the goodwill the action generated made up for the difference.
Dustin Rhodes also wrote:

~90% of green programs/charities are spending money to educate/encourage the populace to act on their own volition - also proving not to be cost-effective(although still good  )

Here the question I have is how do we help those "programs/charities" avoid the greenwashing trap and provide people with information on profit-making solutions, even if that profit is only internal to the family (such as growing food displacing grocery expenses), or to the company (a healthy environment keeps workers healthier lowering medical costs). I see two things that interfere: the first is the difficulty many people have of thinking "outside the box", and the second is their natural risk aversion to something new that may not work.

If the law is passed and if it is well-publicized, giving people the message that the environment truly should be seen as essential enough to be the equivalent of a "Person" may be useful and helpful. Helping people to see that cleaning up the lake might actually create jobs and generate income, could be even more helpful.

We also have to be careful when charitable organizations start to push "invasive species control". On Vancouver Island, the First Nations people considered Doug Fir to be an invasive species and they did their best to discourage it. Currently, it is considered a valuable timber resource. Species are far more likely to be a problem when the environment is stressed or changes in subtle or not-so-subtle ways. I won't say that there isn't a place for non-poisonous methods of slowing down invasive plants so long as the root causes like too much phosphorous and nitrogen in water run-off, are being actively countered or prevented near their source.
 
Dustin Rhodes
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I think one means of energizing populace(without extensive education) lies in proving that ecological conservation is valuable - and that at the PERSONAL level, not the global/society level.  

Change of opinion/call to action happens best/most quickly when that person is actually affected by the situation at hand, either negatively or positively.  only the fishermen, biologists,freight boats, governmental water workers, etc care about the lake, because they are directly affected by it. as long as the population has fresh drinking water and the lake doesn't smell, the rest won't care.

So how can we expose the populace to the horrors of the disaster when they don't care about the lake?  One potential way would be to help them to care about the lake(not for the sake of the lake, or other's livelihoods) for THEMSELVES.  Promote lake usage in a variety of ways, both casual(walking/biking trails, watersports, school trips, waterfront development, etc) and professional(lower shipping tarriffs, lower fishing permit fees(while not endangering conservation efforts), promote/develop the cattail methane generator, etc.

Get them to the lake they wanted to enjoy/utilize, and have them see for themselves that it needs their help, for their OWN good, and we might get more traction, leading to the populace desiring education/action for THEMSELVES.



Now they're invested; now they're more likely to take the tools we provide and get to work, one way or another.
 
Jay Angler
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I think getting birds and animals involved helps too - bird watching is a popular sport. Point Pelee National Park is a really well known bird watching spot and is on the north shore of Lake Erie.
 
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