Capitalistic economic thought tells us to place a price tag on commodities, giving them an exchange value. Their worth comes from how much money an individual can receive from it. However, when an exchange value is placed on nature’s resources, it is then viewed as any other commodity, and is subject to the same thought-process as a car, for example. By doing this, nature looses it’s intrinsic value- its true worth, its aesthetic beauty, its miraculous wonders- and instead is only viewed with a price tag. There are no ethics in this type of thinking, but rather thoughts that lead to exploitation.
However, Bolivia seems to be undoing this common practice. It is passing the Law of Mother Earth, and by doing so will give equal rights to nature. Under this law nature will have new rights:
“The right to life and to exist; the right to continue vital cycles and processes free from human alteration; the right to pure water and clean air; the right to balance; the right not to be polluted; and the right to not have cellular structure modification”
The Law of Mother Nature has deep roots in Bolivian indigenous respect for Pachamama, a goddess deeply revered by indigenous people of the Andes. The draft of the new law states:
“She is sacred, fertile and the source of life that feeds and cares for all living beings in her womb. She is in permanent balance, harmony and communication with the cosmos. She is comprised of all ecosystems and living beings, and their self-organisation”
In Bolivia, temperatures are on the rise, there is more extreme weather, and glaciers are melting. Hopefully this law will help reverse some of these trends. I applaud these types of ethics. Individuals must understand the true intrinsic value of nature. Through care rooted in sound environmental ethics, our modern societies can can begin to come back into balance with nature.