Can Legislation Help Curb Environmental Abuse?

While climate change will affect everyone, it may do so disproportionately. Certain countries that house a lot of the environments spectacles and count on these natural wonders to help fuel their economy will bear the brunt of climate change in it’s early stages.

Countries like Guatemala, for example, who has such a large, diverse amount of rain forest and wildlife will forever see it’s landscape changed if we don’t deal with the deterioration of our Earth’s atmosphere and other factors that lead to the heating, or cooling, of the Earth.

In fact, in 2006 an advocacy group called CALAS (Center For Legal, Environment, and Social Action) attacked a mining law in Guatemala and found success in the courts. It argued that the law didn’t protect another valuable resource of it’s country:  The people. An indigenous group of tribesman lived near the mines and was insufficiently advocated for with regards to the law that was passed.

The word Guatemala actually means “land of many trees” in the ancient Mayan tongue. If our current trajectory on climate change continues, we may have to remain this beautiful country as little of the rain forest, or any other trees for that matter, may be left.

How Can Legislation Help?

Legislation can be enacted by whatever legal specialty happens to bring it forth; it isn’t necessarily only an environmental issue. As seen by the issue with the Guatemalan tribesman, a human-rights-type issue was brought up which positively affected environmental issues and limited the reach of the mining companies.

There are several examples of great legislation that has helped shape what little help mother Earth has received from us:

Clean Air Act of 1970: This law was updated in the 1990’s to address acid rain and the Ozone depletion.

Clean Water Act of 1972: Before this law, there were no rules mandating what types of waste or other products could be dumped into waterways in the US. Imagine that.

Endangered Species Act of 1973: As a result of this law, many species have returned from the brink of extinction and are now flourishing once again.

Safe Drinking Water Act of 1974: Later amendments to this law shifted the focus from cleaning drinking water to safe levels to stopping it from becoming polluted in the first place.

National Forest Management Act of 1976: This law forced national forests to look at the effects of logging them.

The 1970’s were a great year for our environment, and with a little help from regular people, the early 2000’s and beyond could help improve, augment, and finalize environmental policy that will forever change the path we are on as we float around the sun on this rock we must protect.

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