What makes Sweden such a toxic society

Nature conservation in SwedenA tribunal for Lake Vättersee

The Rotterdam Music Academy in December 2018: The Swedish singer Peder Karlsson gives a workshop for prospective choir directors. Rhythm, movement, respect are his themes. Intuition. And having fun together.

"In 90 minutes I can guide you through this process so that you realize you are a cell in a large body. And instinctively understand that we are part of a larger whole. Humanity is only one species, among a hundred billion others. Breathing . Body. Experience first. Theory and reflection later. "

This article is part of the five-part report series "Green Swede! Climate Activists in Northern Europe".

The singers are having fun. And don't even realize they're taking a gentle lesson in environmental awareness. Peder Karlsson, a name in the European acappella scene for more than 30 years, only briefly mentioned at the beginning of the course that he had come to Rotterdam by train. From Umeå in northern Sweden. 2,000 kilometers, 25 hours each way.

The singer Peder Karlsson combines climate actions with singing (Deutschlandradio / Simonetta Dibbern)

"Even the oil production is the destruction of nature - ecocide"

It hardly flies at all, says Peder Karlsson a few weeks later in a station café in Stockholm. A good meeting place - for train drivers and for activists from different parts of Sweden. Together with the lawyer Pia Björstrand and the biologist Pella Thiel, Peder Karlsson is preparing an environmental protection conference in May. All three are part of the Rights of Nature movement.

"Of course I admire Greta Thunberg for what she does. But we want to go further than just analyzing our carbon footprint. What if we no longer mine raw materials? Then we would not need to discuss the Paris Climate Agreement how great the influence of humans is on the climate. Oil production alone is destruction of nature, ecocide. "

Giving nature rights by constitution: That is the goal of Rights of Nature activists, also in Europe. Ecuador did this ten years ago. Even mountains, rivers and forests should be able to be defended in court, says biologist Pella Thiel.

"It means a fundamental change in our perception. Because our culture is based on the maxim that the environment and nature are only there to be used and consumed. We urgently need a different view of nature. How such a relationship could look like , We can learn that from indigenous peoples. Because for them humans are part of nature. "

Nature should be able to "judge"

That's why Dakota and Sami will also be at the conference in May, says Pella, and other indigenous people from around the world.

"And lawyers. Because they say that the law is the only social instrument to decide right and wrong. It is the DNA of a society."

In order for environmental degradation to be brought to justice, as "Ecocide Law", as the Rights-of-Nature movement wants, nature has to be made "judicially capable", as it were. According to the activists, ecocide should become part of the statute of the International Criminal Court in The Hague, crimes against nature can be punished as well as crimes against humanity. There is still a long way to go: politically and socially.

"Sweden is an old democracy with strong and rigid institutions. But because we are convinced that this change in awareness is urgently needed, we are continuing to work on it. We will present our latest idea at our Rights of Nature conference in May . Lake Vättersee, one of the great Swedish lakes, should have rights that we must respect. Let's see what happens. "

Poisonous ammunition on Lake Vättersee

The lawyer Pia Björstrand interferes - environmental law has not yet been her area of ​​expertise. This tribunal will definitely be a challenge for them too.

"At the moment the military is using Lake Vättersee for target practice with poisonous ammunition, and it is a drinking water reservoir. There are also a number of mining projects not far from the shore we've just seen in Brazil. We're going to play through a fictional court case, with judges, lawyers, prosecutors. With good guys and with bad guys. "

Peder Karlsson wants to play the bad guy. But as Rights of Nature's cultural officer, he'll probably be in charge of the vocals. At the conference - and at the next workshop, somewhere in Europe.

"It took me a long time to get out of the artist bubble. But now I've found an exciting way to combine singing with my involvement with Rights of Nature. Because it's basically the same thing - and can involve everyone."