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Silver Donald Cameron

Welcome to Silver Donald Cameron’s blog! Dr Cameron is the author of 19 books and of many plays, films, magazine articles, radio and TV scripts. He is currently the host and executive producer of TheGreeninterview.com and of its feature documentary, Green Rights: The Human Right to a Healthy World. In 2019, he was appointed the first Farley Mowat Chair in Environment at Cape Breton University, where he earlier served as professor, dean and writer-in-residence. He currently teaches an on-campus/online course called Green Rights.

Let’s Make a Film Together! says Silver Donald Cameron

Imagine if the Earth had rights. Imagine if you yourself had the right to clean air and water, the right to a healthy environment.

You don’t, you know. In 177 countries around the world, people do have those rights. But Canadians don’t, and Americans don’t. Getting those rights into the North American legal system may be the most important single thing we could do for the planet — and for ourselves. And that’s the basic story of the film – entitled “Green Rights” – that The Green Interview team is creating right now. More details below.

As with Salmon Wars, our earlier film, we’re financing Green Rights with grants and donations, so that the finished film can be given away free to environmental organizations, community groups, environmental web sites, festivals, and anyone else interested in creating a sustainable future for our planet. You can help — and I hope you will.

To see a trailer for the film – and to make a donation – go to www.GreenRights.com, where there’s a lot more information about the project. (It’s endorsed by many of Canada’s leading environmental organizations, including Sierra Club Canada, David Suzuki Foundation, Greenpeace Canada, and many more.)

Here’s an outline of the story we want to tell. Will you help us to tell it?

The Story

Your body contains more than a pound of plastic, along with 700 chemical contaminants — and the law sees nothing wrong with that. The air that Americans breathe kills 70,000 annually — and the law is silent about that. Your tap water contains hormones, pesticides and antibiotics — in Alberta, it sometimes contains so much methane that it burns — and the law has nothing to say about that. In West Virginia, coal companies blow the tops off mountains and fill the valleys with rubble — and the law sees no problem with that.

In the United States, Canada and Australia — and in 13 other countries, including the likes of China, Cambodia and North Korea – government refuses to recognize your right to a healthy environment as a basic human right. In the other 177 member countries of the United Nations, those rights are recognized in law. More than 100 countries embed those rights in the constitution.

Does that make a difference? You bet it does.

In Argentina, a public health worker named Beatriz Mendoza sues federal, provincial and state governments and 44 big industries for violating her constitutional right to a healthy environment. Argentina’s Supreme Court rules in her favour and forces governments to crack down on polluters and spend billions of dollars restoring a once-toxic watershed.

France becomes the first country in the world to ban hydraulic fracking. Cubatao, Brazil, once among the most polluted cities on Earth, is transformed into a model of ecological recovery – and when Chevron fouls the Brazilian seas, it pays $170 million in fines and restoration charges, while its executives face criminal charges. In Finland, the friends of a river sue to prevent a dam — and win. In India, environmental lawyer M.C. Mehta cleanses the air of New Delhi by forcing city buses to burn natural gas instead of diesel.

Environmental rights bring transformation. And some countries, notably Ecuador and Bolivia, have moved beyond recognizing the environmental rights of human beings. They have recognized the fundamental rights of Mother Nature herself. Ecuador’s new constitution recognizes that nature is entitled to “respect for its existence and for the maintenance and regeneration of its life cycles.”

When nature has rights, relationships change fundamentally. Imaginary entities — corporations, municipalities, civil society — are no longer privileged over real entities like forests and animals, the air and the oceans. Property and ownership are redefined. Measurements of well-being move beyond the merely economic. Many of today’s “environmental” issues simply resolve themselves.  

All of which brings modern law much closer to the world-view of indigenous people, whose jurisprudence is commonly rooted in respect and reverence for Mother Nature. It is no surprise that the movement for environmental rights is strongest in such South American countries as Ecuador and Bolivia, with their large indigenous populations. Indeed, Bolivia’s president, Evo Morales, is himself of indigenous descent.

Today, a growing movement seeks to embed the right to a healthy environment in the legal systems of North America. A powerful global movement calls for a Universal Declaration of the Rights of Mother Earth, which would be a sweeping 21st century extension of the transformative Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The enshrinement of environmental rights may be the most important single step that human beings can take to reverse humanity’s present suicidal course — and to treat the planet with the reverence it deserves.

Give me a long enough lever, and I can move the world, said Archimedes. Environmental rights provide us with a lever that can indeed move the world. And that’s what the GreenRights project is all about.

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Remember, you can help. To see the trailer – and to help with the cost – go to www.GreenRights.com, where there’s a lot more information about the project

See you in the movies!