The Rights of Nature: A Legal Revolution That Could Save the World

David R. Boyd. ECW (Legato, U.S. dist.; Jaguar, Canadian dist.), $15.95 trade paper (280p) ISBN 978-1-77041-239-2
Tackling subjects as formidable as climate catastrophe and species extinction with hope, inspiration, and accessible storytelling, environmental lawyer Boyd (The Optimistic Environmentalist) presents an exciting view of an evolving legal architecture that seeks to establish protection for all life forms. He argues that the law is gradually starting to reflect a growing body of scientific literature that documents how nonhuman creatures feel, think, communicate, socialize, and even create and use tools. Boyd details how dated anthropocentric concepts are being overcome by legal means such as strict animal-cruelty laws and Bolivia’s Law on the Rights of Mother Earth. Stories of remarkable feats achieved by a variety of creatures including ants and octopuses are offered as examples to readers for why the natural world needs legal protection. Expertly written case studies in which legalese is accessibly distilled—including instances where rivers gain the same rights as persons and endangered fish inspire precedent-setting lawsuits—are empowering reminders that the seemingly inevitable slide toward planetary destruction can be halted. Boyd persuasively shows that treating the law as an evolving instrument, combined with public-awareness campaigns and political pressure, can help curb humanity’s worst excesses. (Sept.)

Due to an editing error, this review was not starred when it published, though it should have been. The review has been updated.

Reviewed on: 07/31/2017
Release date: 09/01/2017
Genre: Nonfiction
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