Human Rights & Sustainability

When I think of HR and Sustainability, I think about how the two work together to support humans and the Earth. Within the last two weeks, I have been able to better conceptualize my understanding of HR and sustainability. Human rights come from human wrongs and social struggle, where the lack of freedoms require a needed protection from injustice. Human rights is a complex issue arising from our fundamental fault of conceptualizing rights. We need to understand a group before we apply human rights to that group, in order to respect diversity. A big problem with seeing human rights processed is our lack of understanding of groups that need help and of how the idea of rights have theoretically been shaped throughout history. It appears that human rights and environmental protection clash because there is a claim that one cannot defend both the Earth and humans. However, this has a lot to do with our perceptions that the only things that matter are humans. When we think about that idea, I think about the article “Walking the Path of Environmental Buddhism Through Comparison and Emptiness.” From the Buddhist perspective, one can begin to understand how the Earth plays a crucial role in our existence: without the Earth we would not be living or breathing. Yet the Earth appears to be the most unprotected entity of life. In the Vitousek article, I realized a lot of the issues seen with the way we treat our environment. I realized that oceans and land have experienced man-made changes as well as the growth of biotic changes. In order for earth to survive, we need to slow the population growth and use resources efficiently, according to the article.

Hancock discusses dominant forms of rationality which influence our perception of the environment. He discusses how reason is used as a tool for the economic apparatus of society: for capitalists to make more money. Humans, he says, use instrumental rationality to establish what life is and value it. Therefore, environmental human rights are treated as unimportant and/or irrelevant. Social power serves the interests of powerful social groups and therefore, environmental human rights fall short on the agenda of worldwide attention and care. Environmental human rights involves protecting humans while protecting the environment too. I. E Kenya and the issue of lead poisoning. Lead poisoning affected several residents and caused deaths. However, this toxic lead is also harming Earth. In order for a just solution to be implemented, I believe the plant needs to receive strict sanctions but also eliminate the dumping of toxic materials in order to benefit humans and the Earth. To simply dump the toxic waste in a different location would be still harming our environment.