The Fight to Turn Lake Erie Into a Person | The Daily Show
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The Fight to Turn Lake Erie Into a Person | The Daily Show

Right now I’m standing
on top of Lake Erie. Well, I’m actually on
a boat that’s on La- you know how that works. Recently the residents
of Toledo, Ohio voted to make Lake Erie a person. What does that even mean? All right, can we go back?
I think I’m gonna puke. Local activist Markie Miller is one of the human people
responsible for getting the Lake Erie
personhood initiative passed. Our premise was
to change the notion that nature is merely property, and that if you own the permit, that you get to destroy it,
to harm it. So by giving Lake Erie
its own set of rights, we have a better way
of enforcing protections. How far can this go? A lake is a person? What’s next,
is a swimming pool a person? Is a dog a person? Is a child a person? Do you see how slippery
this slope is? Well, much like,
you know, a child, we often have someone else speak
on their behalf. And I think that tends to be our relationship
with Lake Erie, that we become trusties
of this lake. You can be honest here,
I’m from Michigan. Anyone that’s been down here
knows the people here, they kind of march
to their own drummer. -Sure.
-Is this a sex thing? Definitely not at all. KOSTA:
So making a lake into a person is clearly a weird sex thing. But Markie and her fellow
conservationists have even more
selfish motivations. The toxic water situation
in Ohio that prompted the governor to
declare a state of emergency. TV REPORTER: Lake Erie, a major
source of drinking water, serves 400,000 people. We lost access to our drinking
water for three days. -It impacted 500,000 people.
-Mm-hmm. They couldn’t bathe, they
couldn’t touch the water. -Mmm. -You couldn’t do your
laundry, wash your dishes. -Uh, water became
-Keep going. Uh-huh. a really scarce commodity. -It wasn’t available.
-Ah! Oh, goddam, that’s good. We realized
how vulnerable we were. -And how precious
the resource was, -(grunts) that it could be taken away
just like that. -It is something that we enjoy,
isn’t it, as humans? -Yes. -Yeah.
-Do you mind if I just…? KOSTA: But is turning your lake
into a person really the best way
to protect it? Apparently so, according to the Community Environmental
Legal Defense Fund, which has successfully turned
nature into persons in places as exotic as Ecuador, New Zealand and Pennsylvania. Well, we describe it more
as the right to live, to flourish, exist,
be healthy. But, yeah, in our legal world
we use personhood rights. I mean what,
what is a person, Tish? Is this lake a person? It’s living. -It’s living, okay.
-Yes. Let’s go back. What about that river? Yeah, it’s living and there’s
life all around it, and in it and it’s living. Is this a person? -Oh, my God, Jesus, sorry.
That was– -(laughing) Why was that there?
Why was that in there? What do you say
to your critics that say this is absolutely
batshit (bleep) crazy? I don’t find this crazy at all, because corporations
have had personhood rights, so they’re not even
a living entity, and yet nature
that we depend on is not considered
having the same rights that we do
or that corporations do. KOSTA:
And there’s tons of opposition to giving Lake Erie the rights
of a person, from farms,
the state government, fishermen with IBS… basically, anyone else trying to get rid
of their toxic dumps. Found out that BP was basically
the sole funder of the campaign against
the Lake Erie Bill of Rights. -They spent– BP, yep.
-BP? Black people.
You know, I always knew. -Is that…?
-British Petroleum. British Petroleum–
can we cut that? Can we cut that part out? British Petroleum. They do have a refinery
not far out from Toledo, but I think that it was more
about, you know, not wanting this idea of rights
of nature to-to take off. -But, you know, we do live here.
-Mm-hmm. And we’re not going to sit back
and be poisoned. You know, Markie, I have
to admit, when I came here, I thought, I thought
it was bullshit, Markie. I kind of thought you were
this crazy woman who decided to make Lake Erie
a person. But here you are on the
battlegrounds, every day, fighting against
big agriculture, fighting against
the State of Ohio, fighting for this
beautiful body of water. The real hero here–
yeah, you a little bit– but even more so than that, I’m the one
who’s showcasing you. So if anything, I’m the hero. And that’s why
I love this story. So maybe a person
can make a difference. And maybe a lake
can become a person. And maybe it can even get
married to the handsome, sensitive correspondent
who saved it. I do. Because true love is pure, it is deep, it is clear, it’s perfect
and it tastes sweet. (gagging, groaning) Blech. Why didn’t you tell me there’s something wrong
with this water? (cheers and applause)


  • Terry Byte

    Awww 🥺 at first I thought it was ridiculous based on the title alone but her explanation makes sense…I hope it works out for her!

  • Iron Fan

    Did Michael just drink his new wife?
    That's taking 'swallowing' to a whole new level…
    The Daily Show – Breaking ground, EVERYWHERE!

  • Alexander Dean

    the satire is funny but not all people are smart enough to get it, we are at a point where the comedy has to stop and action needs take place and in the famous words of Michale Jackson I m starting with the man in the mirror, you to Trevor and the staff of the daily show I challenge you, an all solar powered broadcast is the change. lead by example. lead by example. I understand impartiality in telling jokes but lead by example.

  • Face Octopus

    A white person landing a race joke requires a couple things.
    # 1 it takes skill to make (and perhaps also deliver) to make such a joke. Probably more than just a random non-race joke.
    #2 the audacity to even try. In most settings, telling such a joke is rather taboo, so if the joke doesn't land, the backlash will probably be intense.

    I think you nailed that "BP" joke!

  • Donovan Roberts

    SOoo, let me get this right. You can protect a lake from being destroyed or abused by it's owners by considering it as being alive, having life and being a person?!
    But a fetus, which has a heartbeat and developed organs can still be murdered inside the womb because …….. it's not alive? hence not a person, not privileged to the protection of person-hood.

    How dumb do you have to be to become a democrat?

  • eeechannel1

    In my hometown, rivers are more than persons. They are Gods with name, likes and dislikes. Their rights are respected and enforced by the community elders (chiefs, linguist, etc). Respected nature for thousands of years. And here we are after years of "civilization", we are back to where we started – respecting nature

  • Micheal Thatcher

    You know we are fucked when we have to make laws turning the environments we live in to have the rights like us in order to protect it.

  • cheeseonyomama

    The whole "drink water copiously while someone genuinely complains about a water crisis" bit has been done to death by better people than this Colbert-wannabe.

    Write better bits, Daily Show.

  • Boono

    So nature and lakes weren't protected before and it needs to be given rights of a person to be protected?!
    What about the rest of lakes and rivers?

  • Miah Ro

    Black people, that's not funny. What about broke people, bad people, British people? We're not a joke. So stop saying it.

  • Douglas Gilmore

    I live 40 ish min from Erie pa and lake erie…. oh man Erie is sparkling clean compared to the pymatuning and shenango reservoirs we get our water from here…can someone clean up our water….my third arm is starting to break out with more arms

  • Tedarion Johnson

    So what about when Lake Erie kill someone, what happens? Since he/she is a person. So technically water is a race of people, Lake Erie being the founding mother/fatter. Go see if the government would let yall change race. Technically the human bout is about 70% water or so. sound like you rightfully could (both are bodies of water).

  • Cheryl Carlson

    Agree with passing laws to protect nature but really don't like the white right stupid guy attitude and failure to take responsibility crap. I know you can write better stuff so show me.

  • boB Petersen

    It’s about time to legally recognizing we are in a domestic abuse situation with Mother Nature. BP paid less than $5 billion to permanently damage huge parts of the Gulf as well as the estuary and damage continues even today. If She were recognized as a person BP Executives would be in jail or at the very least they would pay ALL THE COSTS of their spills and emissions and a punitive fine-the original $11 Billion fines was too low and allowing them to deduct most of it from their taxes is sinful.

  • Maxime Prometheas

    Just designate the Lakes as a fetus; the GOP and their zombies would kill you before they'd allow you to so much as dip a toe in it…

  • American Freedom World Peace

    Conservatives don't care, all they care about is MONEY. They could care less about the planet, deny climate change, and favors big corporation and profit.

  • Catch N Release

    Markie wants to grind on Michael Kosta till his junk turns to dust. Clearly humor is the way to her heart.

  • Mason Sanchez

    Trevor Noah and The Daily Show know how to make the ending after the video. Make it very short, so people actually watch THE WHOLE VIDEO. I'm tired of 30 second ish endings; showing the host and some videos you can click. Making people like myself go to another video before the current one ends. I ain't got time for that.

  • Sandesh Motwani

    Who will be responsible if some one drowns, will lake do the compensations. If it floods, who will compensate. I am sure there are better ways to protect the lake.

  • mantan h

    The History of American Development is a Naked History of War of Aggression
    The history of American prosperity is a naked history of aggression.
    —— On the United States as the Origin of the Third World War
    First, the United States started and developed by war.
    During the 206 years from 1798 to 2003, the United States had 238 foreign wars in 200 years, of which 233 were "undeclared wars". On average, a war is waged in less than a year.
    According to the Russian news network, looking through the history of American war, we will be surprised to find that only five of them were declared by Congress, and the rest of the wars were "undeclared wars" under the command of the President.
    Four Stages in the History of American Aggressive War
    1. Murder, plunder and nation-building (300 years)
    There were more than a hundred looting wars against Indians. On the American continent, there were more than 40 million Indians who were the original masters. From the arrival of the Puritans in Plymouth by May Flower in 1620 to the 1920s, only over 200,000 Indians were killed by white Americans. In a short period of 300 years, we can create the world's first "American paradise", "American century", "American hegemony" from the North American continent, which can not but attract the eyes of the people of the whole world. The secret of America's great prosperity was "killing, plundering and founding the nation"! No wonder the lives of 40 million Indians have disappeared. No wonder the land of Mexico has disappeared. The blood of 40 million Indians and the land property of Mexico have become the stars on the Star-Spangled Banner of the United States of America. Cow, it's really a cow! This is the history of America!
    2. The plunder and aggression against the rich countries (the end of World War II to the end of 1999) for 55 years
    From 1945 to 1990 alone, there were 124 overseas wars.
    This led to the coming of the "American Century".
    3. Invasion, plunder and hegemony (1991-2000, 10 years)
    From 1991 to the 21st century, more than forty foreign wars were waged.
    The peaceful evolution disintegrated the Soviet Union and the war brought about "American hegemony".
    4. Monopoly prevails all over the world, and economic collapse is reversed in an attempt to pass on war (10 years since the 21st century)
    Since the beginning of the 21st century, two local wars have been launched in Afghanistan and Iraq to seize the world economy.
    Economic and military strategic importance. We should expand our sphere of influence and gain economic benefits in order to maintain world hegemony. However, due to the seriousness of this incident, we want to pass on the war.
    III. Major Wars Launched and Participated by the United States
    1. The 1620-1929 massacre of Indians lasted more than one hundred times, seizing Indians'land and homes and massacring 40 million people.
    2. The Monroe Declaration was issued in 1823. Claim: The United States will not interfere in European affairs and internal wars, and Europe will not interfere in the internal affairs of the Americas.
    In business, any attempt by Europe to interfere in the Americas will be regarded as hostile to the United States. Putting forward that "America is the Americans'America", actually
    It is the declaration that America belongs to the sphere of influence of the United States.
    3. Roosevelt put forward Roosevelt's Inference in 1904, which further supplemented Monroe Doctrine. He pointed out that once Latin American countries "riot", the United States
    It can interfere in its internal affairs.
    4. In 1844, the Qing government was coerced into signing the Wangxia Treaty, which put forward the principle of "all interests are involved".
    5. The war against Mexico was launched in 1846-1848, and Texas, New Mexico and California were incorporated into the territory of the United States.
    6. Participated in the campaign of suppressing China's Taiping Heavenly Kingdom from 1851 to 1864, and coerced Japan to open its doors.
    7. The Spanish-American War was launched in 1898, which captured Cuba and Puerto Rico in the Caribbean Sea, Guam in the Pacific Ocean and the Philippine Islands, and merged Xavier.
    Yi islands.
    8. In 1899, China put forward the policy of "open door". That is, on the basis of recognizing the "sphere of influence" of all countries in China, we propose "equal opportunity"
    We should apply the original "sphere of influence" and land leasing policy to the whole of China.
    9. In 1900, he joined the eight-nation coalition forces to invade China and obtained the garrison privileges in Beijing and other places.
    10. In 1903, a coup was instigated in Panama to seize the Panama Canal Area.
    11. From 1914 to 1918, the United States provided arms to the warring parties and loans to the allies. The United States became a loan from a debtor country that owed $6 billion
    Ten billion dollars of creditor countries, to become the richest countries.
    12. World War I, 1917-1918;
    13. In 1917, the United States and Japan signed the Lansing-Ishii Agreement, which recognized that Japan had special interests in Shandong, Northeast and Inner Mongolia of China.
    14. In 1918, the United States intervened in Soviet Russia and withdrew its troops in 1920.
    15. He participated in the anti-fascist battle against Germany, Italy and Japan from 1939 to 1945.
    Providing weapons and materials to anti-fascist countries, becoming the arsenal of allies, and prospering in wartime, the United States dollar was established as the world currency.
    Position. By taking advantage of the opportunity to participate in the war, many strategic positions in the world have been controlled and military bases have been established. Promoting the Cold War Policy and Putting Forward Truman
    Yi and Marshall plan to establish the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. China is subject to blockade and embargo.
    16. Participated in the Korean War from 1950 to 1953.
    17. From 1945 to 1954, France was supported in launching the first Indochina War against Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia.
    18. From 1958 to 1975, the United States launched the second Indochina War against Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia.
    19. In June 1959, the United States invaded Guatemala by manipulating mercenaries.
    20. In April 1961, the United States organized mercenaries to invade Cuba.
    21. January 1964 US direct intervention in Panama
    22. In 1965, the United States sent troops to Dominica to suppress the uprising.
    23. In 1983, the United States organized the Multinational Force to send troops to Grenada.
    24. In 1990, the blade pierced Liberia
    25. 1990-1991 Persian Gulf War
    26. Armed intervention in Somalia in 1992
    27. In 1994, soldiers invaded Port-au-Prince
    28. 1994, "Tomahawk" missile toward Bosnia and Herzegovina
    29. 1998, Combating Sudan and Afghanistan
    30. 1999, Flagrant Air Attacks on the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia
    31. In 2001, Afghanistan was the first choice in the fight against terrorism
    32. Invasion of Iraq in 2003

  • Hayley Moritz

    Just want to point out that rivers and lakes are not living entities. They have living entities in and around them, but they are not themselves alive.

  • Shawn&Inna Barrett

    bAdge Aut

    or man tic Steward is insane did he check wiki that first respondeds save 20 peopel only and what went on during 9/11 they did not rescue anyone at al these first responder and during war in Syria and also the later during fire in one of the building after 9/11 more peopel got injured. John strand daznt have a job. Why is he turned into intellectual prstiture now goes around shouts why? he want to be rescued by 9/11 peopel also who is 911 when we cal teh tuber why is that 911 that is teh number we call and ho are 911 

    they are police ? they are paramedics and hu else??

    these peopel are lazy bastard asking for chritue they are nazi organization so what they need a fund for john steward is insane 

    john steward is insane 

    maybe john steward dd not se information Ipulled railer that there is no crisis
    noah, obviously they withe withhold information nd egg peopel on to act against common sense.
    Sounds liek Jon is nekrasov and actually steven is evil
    Steven is evil because he know and he still pressing his point caus ehe get paid. Unlike jon steward he is being fulled n acting on wrong potencies trying to be communists o panicking wanted to make sure he be rescued by 911. but they come with gains an they horrible peopel looting everyone
    black suit

  • 314Jennifer

    My first thought is , perhaps they could find a way to make that lake into a corporation, since corporations are legally considered to be people. Of course the lake would then need shareholders and a board of directors.

  • clumsiii

    hey Acosta: drop the shtick with the self aggrandizing. It's beneath you. Step up homes – Acosta Kosta whatever

  • FlamingAtheist

    as much as i like the daily show… im getting kind of tired of these "lets report on a thing" *Obnoxious behavior ensues over the person talking*

    Maybe him drinking a ton of water just triggered me…

  • Jules C

    Will he ever tone down the nonsense that he’s the hero or the most important person. I love everything else but fucking hate this tired bit that’s not remotely funny or fresh. Thx

  • pop5678eye

    Corporation is a 'person' only to deflect individual responsibility from its executives, and in a way that there is no responsibility at all. If an actual individual person causes the death of a dozen people or loss of millions of dollars of damage to citizens they will go to prison! No corporation goes to prison under the same culpability laws! They just pay a laughable fine that they then pass onto their consumers.

  • luis whatshisname

    America and its shithole beaches: Feces & flesh-eating bacteria: Study reveals shocking levels of contamination at America's beaches

  • Danielle 'Smith'

    Okay, normally I like The Daily Show, but this time the comedy got in the way of the story. I don't need Michael Kosta asking 6 different people "is this a person." or loudly slurping down water while someone's trying to speak. The joke wasn't that funny the first time, and the latter is just obnoxious and rude.

  • susan orrell

    So sad that we are so arrogant that the only way to make people see the value of nature is to make it “human”.

    We have got to start taking care of the land, water and soil that supports us.

  • Yuniel Gonzalez

    I thought it was stupid. Watch it, and it makes so much sense. Too bad you have to do this in order to save lakes, body of waters, etc

  • Wayne Liang

    Given the fact that thousands of people depends on water from the lake, does making it a person still allow people to take water from it?

  • Ryan Anderson

    All I know is it better be a female, I am going to get up in that wet wet Erie. Doesn't work if it's a male….

  • Seetiyan

    Making it legally a "person" is supposed to help protect it. Cool idea.
    Except we do have a history of harming persons in this country since before it was a country, and blatantly ignoring human rights still to this day. . . . okay I'll stop with the cynicism. But yeah.

  • Chris Butler

    It's kinda dumb that we have to do this. This is happening because the fucken greedy CEO fucks wanted to take no responsibility for their corporations.

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