Beach Environmental Personhood a case for a constitutional amendment
As defined by Wikipedia, Environmental personhood is a legal concept which designates certain environmental entities the status of a legal person. This assigns to these entities, the rights, protections, privileges, responsibilities and legal liability of a legal personality. The status of legal personhood to beaches offers a modern and effective tool for the protection of nature. Like corporations (Turkewitz, J. (2017, September 26). Corporations Have Rights. Why Shouldn’t Rivers? which already have this status as a legal person with juridical rights for their protection, there should be no barrier to grant this status to environmental spaces that have been critical in fermenting human life and evolution.
The beach was and still is a crucible for life. It is a living entity. Most of the oxygen we breathe comes from phytoplanktons in the oceans and not trees. Its intrinsic value is immeasurable as an ecosystem and will be more profoundly realized in future only if we can protect it.
It is recognized that sandy beaches are important ecosystems and function many ways inclusive of but not limited to sediment storage and transport; wave dissipation and associated buffering against extreme weather events; dynamic response to sea level rise; breakdown of organic materials and pollutants; water filtration; nutrient mineralization and recycling; storage of water in dune aquifers and groundwater discharge through beaches; maintenance of biodiversity and genetic resources; providing a nursery area for juvenile fishes; nesting sites or rookeries for turtles, shorebirds, and pinnipeds; prey for birds and other terrestrial wildlife; scenic vistas and recreational opportunities; and functional links between terrestrial and marine environments. Beaches are alive. (Defeo et al., 2009) and beachapedia.org.
Laughing Waters, St. Ann
Therefore, it should not be hard to envision the beach or environment as having its own rights and being a 'person' and 'citizen' with legal and constitutional rights. Enslaved Black people in America were at one time considered three-fifths of a person and devoid of personhood. This was despite the fact that Black people are members of the human race and living entities. It took a constitutional amendment to correct that injustice and we are still experiencing the negative consequences of the denial of personhood to Black people. The same mistake is being made now with the denial of environmental beach personhood to the beaches and environment despite our understanding of the role nature plays in the support of life. This is akin to the human microbiome and its role in supporting human life. New Zealand, Ecuador, Bolivia, India and parts of the US have already recognized the rights of nature. There can no longer be a human-centric only right to life system.
We have to protect nature and what better way than to elevate its status to personhood and begin educating our population on the rights of nature. This will help FREE BEACHES from human aggression, mitigate conflict and protect her for future generations. Beach stressing activities such as tourism (beach recreation on steroids), cleaning (tourism related), nourishment, pollution, exploitation, biological invasions, coastal development and engineering, mining and climate change will continue to destroy this ecosystem (Defeo et al., 2009).
Let us advocate for beach environmental personhood and fight for this. Let us push for a constitutional referendum to change and modernize our laws to respect nature and remove the special interest shackles from her. Constitutional amendment for beach NOW!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!