The continuing conflict between nature, human abuse

Published November 26, 2019, 12:00 AM

by manilabulletin_admin

E CARTOON NOV 27, 2019
Newspapers around the world published last week, on  November 20,  an unusual  story about a  French court in the southwest of France which allowed  a group of ducks in a farm to keep quacking,  after  neighbors  filed a complaint to abort the noise they made. The complainants sought damages  in the amount of 150 euros  (P8,250) for each day that the  noise continued, as well as 3,500 euros  (P192,500) in damages and 2,000 euros  (P112,750) in legal costs. The court ordered  an acoustic audit to test  the actual noise levels,  to be carried out next year.

Earlier, last September, there  had been a case, also in rural France,  where neighbors  sued  the owner of a rooster named Maurice for crowing so early in the morning, but the court upheld  the rooster’s right to  crow in  the morning to start its day.

The court cases  have  drawn  national attention  as a symbol of the battle  between urban and  rural France. More than this, however,  they  are seen  by many quarters as a battle between the natural  world  of animals, trees,  and  other living things and the increasing encroachment and changes in the natural order inflicted by   human  activities.

Such  human  activities as widespread industrialization  have  caused  such  changes  as   rising world temperatures due to carbon emissions  from factories, in turn causing the polar glaciers to melt and ocean levels to rise,  and somehow generating  stronger typhoons and hurricanes.

Our  own  Philippine  Constitution  acknowledges  this  importance of nature,  with Section 16 of Article II “Declaration of Principles and State Policies” providing: “The State shall protect and advance  the right of the people to a balanced and healthful  ecology in accord with the rhythm and harmony of nature.” Our  Supreme  Court  in  1993 upheld the right of 44 children to sue for the cancellation of timber license agreements  as  part of their  right to a healthy environment.  And  in  2008, the Supreme Court  issued a mandamus, ordering  13  government agencies led by the Department of Environment  and Natural Resources  to carry out their obligations as mandated by the Philippine Environment Code to clean up the waters of Manila Bay.

The French courts’ orders in the cases of  Maurice the rooster and the quacking ducks  are  the latest development in the worldwide battle between  the natural  order  of things  and  the  efforts of people to  curtail  it to fit their own human needs. The battle continues to this day and we are firmly on the side of those  seeking  to hold back  human efforts that  are  now causing  climate change and  its  worst  effects on  our lives. .