Whether or not you agree with his strategies, you’ve got to admit that Thomas Linzey has some of the most interesting ideas in environmentalism today. And if ever there was a moment for his community-powered approach to catch fire, it’s now. Given all the grassroots, localized efforts to ban fracking in New York, New Mexico and elsewhere, it could be that the future of his dreams is on its way to becoming reality.

Linzey’s work baRune Mathisensically tackles two linked ideas: first, that a true environmental movement (which he says has never existed in the US) should end its focus on regulation and instead start with the premise that nature has rights. Here’s one of my favorite quotes from our interview.

Unfortunately, you have this huge growth of quasi-green Astroturf environmentalism in the United States which sucks in millions of dollars each year and continues this dream that we can continue treating nature as property, all we have to do is regulate the use of that property a little bit better. And I think that’s crazy.

Linzey points to abolition and women’s suffrage as true movements, where entities once seen as property (slaves, women) worked to have their rights written into the constitution. That, he says, should be the aim of environmentalism.

Second, Linzey says, the rights of corporations (now considered people under the constitution) must be checked. Since there is little pr0spect of either of those things happening on a federal level in the near future, Linzey’s work focuses on helping local communities establish their rights of home-rule to create ordinances on both levels: codifying natural rights and stripping away corporate rights.

I do have questions about this scenario carried out to its logical conclusion. If every locality enacts ordinances banning this and that…what happens when decisions have to be made for the good of the larger community? Transmission lines, say. Or roads. Could we really ever live in a world where those things aren’t necessary? Linzey addresses that question toward the end of our conversation. What do you think?

Thomas Linzey will be speaking at UNM on February 2nd at 7:00 PM. More info

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