Rivers, lakes and forests around the world are being recognised as if they were legal persons. It sounds strange, but could it effectively protect the planet?

Earth 25 September 2019
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The Whanganui river in New Zealand (above) has been declared a legal person. So too has the Yamuna in India (below), which remains polluted with rotting flowers, cloth and other rubbish

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COURTS in Ohio are wrestling with an unusual question: how do you weigh up the rights of two people when one of them is a lake?

For several years, Lake Erie has been hit by an annual bloom of toxic algae caused by run-off from surrounding farmland. In some years, the contamination is so bad local people are warned against drinking water from their taps.

Existing …

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