A Declaration of Planetary Rights and Responsibilities
We, the people – of the species Homo Sapiens within the family of the Great Apes, a branch of the Tree of Life – do hereby declare our profound respect for all other life forms that share with us the Biosphere on this planet we call Earth.
We do not distinguish between the Organic and the Inorganic; each are worthy of our respect in their different ways. Not only the soil, air and water which are essential to sustain organic life, but also the many forms of insect, animal, bird and fish, as well as the plants, forests, mountains, plains, rivers, lakes, seas and oceans – all have their rightful place in the network of being that is the Biosphere. We extend our respect to the layers of rock beneath our feet and the metals and other materials secreted in their depths. We also respect the fire within the body of the planet, as well as the fire within the heart of the Sun. Finally, we respect all the planets and moons of our star-system, the spiral galaxy to which it belongs, and the endless realms of space beyond.
Formed during the last million or so years of evolutionary development, humanity has been gifted with an intelligence that differs from all other beings on planet Earth. This has placed us in a unique position in the animal world, giving us the power to destroy nearly every form of life on planet Earth. We have the power to destroy life, but we also have the power to nurture and protect life. We humbly acknowledge that proper use of this power imposes on us certain duties and responsibilities in our relations with all other species.
Apart from our distant relatives, the bacteria, we are the most invasive and adaptable species on Earth. We acknowledge that we have hitherto misused this position and not fulfilled the responsibilities that it entails. We have ruthlessly cut our way through the network of other species, threatening their welfare and even eradicating many of them completely, thus creating vast tracts of impoverished landscape and ocean where once there was great richness of diversity. In so doing we have undermined the very basis of life on Earth, without which we ourselves would not be able to exist.
We hereby solemnly promise to rectify this state of affairs. We will do this by fundamentally changing the ways in which civilization has hitherto extended itself over the surface of the globe, and by correcting the gross misuse of planetary resources that this has entailed. We seek a new, more equitable balance in our relations with all other species, in the best interests of all, not least ourselves.Our own right to exist is not absolute; it depends on our behavior. Neither do we own the Biosphere, of which we are but a part. We promise henceforth to manage our role in that totality with far greater love and care than in the past. From this common ground a future of well-being for all will be born.
Written and recorded by British-Swedish artist and philosopher Peter J. Tucker (1943-2019). Visit planetaryrights.org.