The birth of the United States began with declaring the inalienable rights of “Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” This became a moral imperative by which many social and economic standards were also set. It is now time to interpret the Declaration of Independence as including the inalienable right to a healthy environment as part of the pursuit of Happiness.
I am in the Gulf of Mexico on Independence Day and it has never been more clear to me that happiness is directly linked to a healthy environment and a healthy ocean, which is our life support system.
The BP Gulf explosion has turned into a disaster of global proportions. It is inconceivable, with all the extraordinary precautions governments take toward military preparedness, equipment, espionage, and diplomacy, that a private enterprise, a corporation, could wreck such havoc on an entire ocean, way of life and people.
This tragedy means that we have also doomed thousands, no, millions, of animals from the microscopic to the magnificent sperm whales. With dolphins and whales, we have wiped out unique civilizations of their cultures in the Gulf, adaptations that are passed on through generations. They are gone.
Rather than despair, I am angered and looking for change at all levels. Rather than turn anti-corporation, I am demanding that there be a change in how business is conducted. Corporations are not individuals and should not be allowed the same rights. They exercise undue influence in the corridors of power, influence and money that no individual could, or should, wield. And their motivation is profit.
We need to reinterpret the Declaration of Independence, globally, to a new moral standard of environmental protection. Our lives, our loves, our happiness, and the future depend on it. We need to declare that corporations must link their profit motives to their responsibilities. Those responsibilities must include proof that their operations take into account their influence on the environment. It is the application, in reverse, of another revered philosophy: Innocent until proven guilty. But with corporations and the history we now know of toxic chemicals, unsafe machinery, oil spills, and more, the reverse philosophy is life-saving: Corporations must be made Guilty Until Proven Innocent in any practice that affects the environment. They must bear the burden of proof to protect us all.
Ask anyone in the Gulf if they agree.
I wish everyone a safe and sane and celebratory Independence Day this 4th of July, and a new commitment to environmental and corporate sanity.
To take action please:
To learn more please:
- Watch Videos From The Field
- Follow the OFS Team, in real time, at the front line of the Oil Spill
- Read How You Can Help
- Watch my Video Statement Gulf Oil Disaster
- Watch my PSA on Florida Oil Drilling