Category Archives: Rivers

2000 years of River Protection and River Pollution

What have our ancestors ever done for us?

Well about two thousand six hundred years ago in Persia the Zoroastrians forbad the discharge of any filth into rivers. In those days, the filth would have been pretty natural but still, Persians wanted their rivers clean.

From 600 BC in Persia to 1876 AD in Britain, law makers in Persia and Britain had their heads screwed on well . Then …..

But our British ancestors in 1810, with the introduction of modern water-carriage sewage disposal in towns and cities, made it legal to transfer filth from the streets to rivers.

City dwellers wanted their streets clean.

You might conclude where this is going but in 1876, the ‘River Pollution Act’ in Britain made it ‘an offence to discharge solid or liquid sewage including any poisonous noxious or polluting liquid from any factory manufacturing and mining process’ into rivers.

Though this shows that some of our law-making ancestors realised the importance of having clean rivers,  it doesn’t help us to understand why present day law makers allow legally defined amounts of river pollution. The likely answer being, “costs are lower, hence profits greater, when rivers are used as waste conduits”.

Looking back on this ‘Age of Pollution“, future generations may never be able to understand why more wasn’t done to help the planet and few of us today can explain why any law-maker would ever support those who cause pollution.  Or, maybe a few of us realise that our species is still a long way from being worldly wise.

In the meantime, whilst some debate on the best way forward, there are many good signs around the World showing that deep down, some people know what’s best, intuitively.

Join the good thinkers.





Whanganui River

In 2012, an agreement to grant legal personhood to the Whanganui River was signed between the New Zealand government and the Whanganui River Māori Trust.

Had a look at the conditions along the Cleddau Estuary, where in February 1996 the Sea Empress ran aground, and picked up a copy of “Sea Empress. Animism Edition” at Caffe Vista in which I read this good news:

“In 2014 the New Zealand government gave up formal ownership of the Te Urewera national park and granted the land with the status of personhood, that is a legal entity with “all the rights, powers, duties and liabilities of a legal person”.

This is too interesting a development to ignore so here this news sits as we debate whether the World’s Ocean should be granted with the status of ‘personhood’. Let’s continue the debate.