Green Books, 2011, 208pp

ISBN: 978-1900322904

Reviewed by Karen Eberhardt-Shelton
(review first published in Green World Magazine)


The global population races upward, GM advances, rules and regulations stifle a sense of community, livestock pump out methane, new runways and roads are built, more housing estates open up, financial subversiveness lures society into false belief systems, extinction proliferates and oh, the rain pours down on a chastened summer. What will be the outcome of such artificial chaos? What is the answer? Where awaits the antidote?

It’s there in Cormac Cullinan’s Wild Law: A Manifesto for Earth Justice (this 2nd edition published by Green Books in 2011). Cullinan is a senior environmental lawyer based in South Africa; the infinitely deep and wide-spread approach he takes to laying out the need for respecting, preserving and protecting Planet Earth’s awesome eco system and its countless components, is a gift to our consciousness. The Earth implores him to convince our anthropocentric (human-centred) population of the urgent need for a massive paradigm shift that will enable us to grasp what it means, in essence, to simply be one type of cell in the body of Earth, and therefore reliant on the inter-dependence that pervades the roots of all life.

Many things are wrong with the way we’re behaving; Wild Law patiently addresses the fundamentals of this ‘wrongness’ and explains why we need to go beyond tackling symptoms and focus on roots of the problems –  always in the context of Earth Democracy, the Earth’s right to life and the jurisprudence (philosophy of law) flowing through the entire universe. Cullinan puts into words the truths and realities of underlying principles – the magnificent ground rules of the universe and its tiny colleague, Earth. There is nothing more important to absorb than the eternal laws governing the interrelated structures, mechanisms and heartbeats weaving through everything ‘original’ on the planet. If we come to believe that we are truly part of the Earth, we will not harm the Earth for fear of harming ourselves.

“Human laws and governance systems must be designed to promote human behaviour that contributes to the health and integrity not only of human society, but also of the wider communities, and of the Earth itself.” In essence, we are all One. “Human rights are meaningless and cannot be sustained if Earth has no rights. The ‘right to life’ is an empty slogan without food and water, which can only be provided by Earth.”

Wild Law is the map for now and forever; reading it makes abundantly clear that ultimately, there is only one true path.