Since the 1970s, some radical environmentalists have argued that trees
have legal rights and should be allowed to go to court to protect
The idea has been endorsed by John P. Holdren, the man who now advises
President Barack Obama on science and technology issues.
Giving "natural objects" -- like trees -- standing to sue in a court
of law would have a "most salubrious" effect on the environment,
Holdren wrote the 1970s.
"One change in (legal) notions that would have a most salubrious
effect on the quality of the environment has been proposed by law
professor Christopher D. Stone in his celebrated monograph, 'Should
Trees Have Standing?'" Holdren said in a 1977 book that he co-wrote
with Paul R. Ehrlich and Anne H. Ehrlich.
"In that tightly reasoned essay, Stone points out the obvious
advantages of giving natural objects standing, just as such inanimate
objects as corporations, trusts, and ships are now held to have legal
rights and duties," Holdren added.
According to Holdren and the Ehrlichs, the notion of legal standing
for inanimate objects would not be as unprecedented as it might sound.
"The legal machinery and the basic legal notions needed to control
pollution are already in existence," they wrote. . . .