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Environmental rights

The editorial "Property Rights vs. Environment," July 2, gives a fine explanation of the facts of the recent Supreme Court case, Lucas v. South Carolina.

The author's conclusion, however, that land is "a most valuable asset" and that "government shouldn't be allowed simply to wipe out the value of property, even for environmental protection," exposes the very root of our present environmental crises.

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As long as we treat land as a commodity and enshrine the rights of property owners to exploit or trade this commodity for financial gain regardless of environmental consequences, we will fail in our efforts to achieve a truly sustainable environment.

What is urgently needed is full acceptance of a new land ethic in which land, with its soils, waters, plants, and animals, is recognized as having certain inviolable rights subordinate to no others.

To some, this may seem extreme. But to many others it is all too clear where our present land ethic will take us so long as significant financial gain is permitted for those who build on, fill in, or pave over fragile habitat, cut the last old-growth timber, or contaminate the waters with industrial effluent. Steven McAllister, Rockport, Maine

Letters are welcome. Only a selection can be published, subject to condensation, and none acknowledged. Please address them to "Readers Write," One Norway St., Boston, MA 02115.

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