This River is a Person in New Zealand Law

The Whanganui River its the first river to have the same legal stats as a person. The New Zealand federal government recently passed a bill granting the river legal personhood. This means that the river is afforded all the rights as a person under New Zealand law. The river’s rights to clean air, legal representation, and other protections people get are now granted to the river itself. This will protect not just the river, it also represents a change in how NZ thinks about the law.

With progress and time we should see other natural entities be granted the same protection as humanity in other jurisdictions.

Long revered by New Zealand’s Maori people, the river’s interests will now be represented by two people.
The Maori had been fighting for over 160 years to get this recognition for their river, a minister said.
“I know the initial inclination of some people will say it’s pretty strange to give a natural resource a legal personality,” said New Zealand’s Treaty Negotiations Minister Chris Finlayson.
“But it’s no stranger than family trusts, or companies or incorporated societies.”
The Whanganui River, New Zealand’s third-longest, will be represented by one member from the Maori tribes, known as iwi, and one from the Crown.
The recognition allows it to be represented in court proceedings.

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Thanks to Delaney!

Why Mining Matters and Why You Should Care

Despite our technological advances modern civilization relies on mineral resources just as much (if not more) than we did in the past. Our computers need rare earth material to work and other products need metals like aluminum. Recycling isn’t perfect and isn’t plentiful around the world. All of these factors contribute to our need for the mining industry. Unless we change our purchases we will continue to fund mining corporations.

The issue is that mining corporations aren’t good. Indeed, this article outlines why mining companies are problematic all the way from support from the Canadian military on how to run “domestic operations” to the outright theft and destruction of land. What can we do about this?

Obviously, the first thing you can do to help alleviate mining pressure on the world is to consume less. The second thing you can do is buy used goods, then lastly recycle. The saying “reduce, reuse, recycle” is in that order for a reason.

For a more direct approach you can join the Mining Injustice Solidarity Network which is an organization focussed on making the world a better place. This week in Toronto there is a major mining convention and the MISN is there trying to (ironically) disrupt it and educate people. The first step to positive change is knowing that it’s needed and that’s what MISN is trying to do.

The Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada (PDAC), organizes the world’s largest mining convention every year in Toronto in March and carries out lobbying efforts in favour of the Canadian mining industry throughout the rest of the year. They describe themself as “the leading voice of the mineral exploration and development community” and claim to encourage “best practices in technical, operational, environmental, safety and social performance”. Meanwhile, Canadian mining companies are far and away the worst offenders in environmental, human rights and other abuses around the world (according to a global study commissioned by PDAC itself but never made public).

The PDAC convention is dedicated to telling compelling stories about the mining industry’s successes and innovations, especially in the realm of “corporate social responsibility” and sustainability. But we know better! Let’s not let them get away with using this convention as yet another shiny PR opportunity to cover up industry harms and repress dissent.

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More Americans Working in Solar Than in Coal

solar

The coal industry is failing and sustainable alternatives are on the rise. No matter what politicians do to try and “save” coal it’s clear that the dirty source of electricity is on its way out. A recent report revealed that in the USA more people are employed by the solar industry than in the coal industry. Solar only provides 1.3% of America’s electricity yet it is more of a job provider than coal is. If somebody (like the president) wants to create more jobs in the USA than maybe supporting solar is the way to do it.

To put this all in perspective: “Solar employs slightly more workers than natural gas, over twice as many as coal, over three times that of wind energy, and almost five times the number employed in nuclear energy,” the report notes. “Only oil/petroleum has more employment (by 38%) than solar.”

Now, mind you, comparing solar and coal is a bit unfair. Solar is growing fast from a tiny base, which means there’s a lot of installation work to be done right now, whereas no one is building new coal plants in the US anymore. (Quite the contrary: Many older coal plants have been closing in recent years, thanks to stricter air-pollution rules and cheap natural gas.) So solar is in a particularly labor-intensive phase at the moment. Still, it’s worth thinking through what these numbers mean.

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Over 100 Golf Courses Closing in China

golf
I make games for a living and I love seeing people have fun – but I really don’t like golf courses. Golf takes up a lot of land and consumes an inordinate amount of water for the amount of entertainment it provides. Essentially, I agree that golf ruins a perfectly good walk.

In China the environmental (and social) costs of golf courses have reached record heights. As a result, over 100 golf courses are being closed by the Chinese government. Ironically, these golf courses were classified as parks and were built since China banned the development of new golf courses in 2004.

China has launched a renewed crackdown on golf, closing 111 courses in an effort to conserve water and land, and telling members of the ruling Communist Party to stay off the links.

The state-run Xinhua News Agency said Sunday the courses were closed for improperly using groundwater, arable land or protected land within nature reserves. It said authorities have imposed restrictions on 65 more courses.

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Thanks to Delaney!

Reusing Renewable Power Pieces

Rotterdam

Despite being more efficient and better than other forms of generating electricity renewable power generation does cause waste. The waste isn’t in the form of smog or tailing ponds or even radioactive barrels. When it comes to wind power the waste generated is broken blades, and there are a lot of them!

Rotterdam has taken charge of their ‘wind waste’ by turning it into playground and park equipment. It turns out that the blades used in wind turbines are perfect for making interesting local parks!

In 2007, the Rotterdam municipality unveiled a playground for Kinderparadijs Meidoorn built out of rotor blades that were originally destined for landfills. Several rotor blades were cut up into parts to serve as tunnels, towers, bridges, hills, ramps and slides. The recycled blades were secured into the ground and painted white with brightly colored stripes.

The city also has public seating at the Willemsplein square where nine intact rotor blades were placed at various angles to create ergonomic public seating with a diversity of seating options. Similarly, in 2014, a durable bus shelter was created in the city of Almere, again from end-of-life turbine blades.

According to the GenVind Innovation Consortium, if only 5 percent of the Netherlands’ yearly production of urban furniture such as playgrounds, public seating and bus shelters were made using waste rotor blades, then the country could get rid of all of its estimated 400 waste rotor blades produced annually.

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