In 2006, a local government council in Pennsylvania concerned about sewage sludge dumping enacted the Western legal system’s first formal “rights of nature” instrument. Today, numerous countries have laws recognizing specific rights or even legal personhood for nature. As legal expert Alice Bleby explains, this new perspective arises from a wide range of contexts and plays out in many different ways.
"Aguié’s clinic is full of malnourished children, with more dying in villages, as the global food crisis worsens years of drought".
"I could tell she knew I was there. But the burly matriarch of the Nshongi mountain gorilla family was ignoring me as she plucked branches from a bush and lazily munched on the leaves, like a teenager working her way through a packet of crisps."
The historic discovery of the Clotilda — America’s “Last Slave Ship” — is only part of the story told in a new book by Alabama-based journalist Ben Raines, which tells the far larger tale about the ship’s survivors, the remarkable Jim Crow-era community they created and its ultimate erosion when faced by decades of environmental racism. A review by BookShelf Editor Tom Henry.
"The worst drought in four decades and a sharp rise in food prices caused by the war in Ukraine have left almost half of Somalia’s people facing acute food shortages."
"Deep in a forest in Nigeria's Ebute Ipare village, Egbontoluwa Marigi sized up a tall mahogany tree, methodically cut it down with his axe and machete, and as it fell with a crackling sound, he surveyed the forest for the next tree."
A recent study of global cropland expansion highlights several trends that are ripe with environmental news stories. One finding: New farm fields have taken over an area the size of Texas and California combined since the start of the century, an expansion primarily affecting biodiversity-rich natural ecosystems, with Africa leading the cropland boom. Freelancer Gabriel Popkin explores the latest data and the reporting possibilities.
Environmental writer Allison Cobb, in “Plastic: An Autobiography,” tells the story of the ubiquitous material through a series of interwoven narratives that range from her own experiences with it (including a discarded plastic car bumper), to the corporate origins of its spread and the way it’s now dangerously carpeting nature and damaging human communities. Contributor Nano Riley has a review in our new BookShelf.
"It has not rained on Habiba Maow Iman's farm in southern Somalia for two years. Her animals are dead; her crops failed."
The climate-security nexus has drawn attention from the Biden administration, but less so elsewhere, even as security experts worry about climate change as a threat multiplier that can exacerbate other causes of conflict. Our new Backgrounder explores these concerns, with a look at how the issue has played out in recent U.S. politics. Plus, seven global regions where climate change may worsen ongoing conflict.