The Daily Caller

The Daily Caller

Ecocide would be a crime against humanity

Wesley J. Smith
Senior Fellow, The Discovery Institute

Contemporary environmentalism is growing increasingly nihilistic, anti-modern and anti-human, these days even rejecting the noble concept of conservationism because many contemporary greens reject the moral propriety of exploiting natural resources and developing the land to promote human wealth and thriving. For example, a growing “nature rights” movement would require that nature be viewed as the legal equal of humans, a concept already the law in Ecuador and Bolivia. A form of the nature rights concept has even been adopted by more than 20 United States municipalities, including Pittsburgh and Santa Monica.

If preventing humans from “assaulting” the earth is now the green goal, rather than simply averting pollution, Gaia will need more than the mere shield of co-equal rights. She will also need a sharp spear with which to punish her rapists.

That is precisely the point of creating a new “international crime against peace” called “ecocide,” currently pushed by an energetic cadre of environmental radicals toward eventual adoption by the United Nations. Here is how ecocide — which is envisioned as a legal counterpart to genocide — is defined on the This Is Ecocide website:

Ecocide is the extensive destruction, damage to or loss of ecosystem(s) of a given Territory, whether by human agency or other causes, to such an extent that peaceful enjoyment by the inhabitants of that territory has been severely diminished.

Please pay very close attention: The word “inhabitants” does not necessarily — or even, primarily — mean human beings. Rather, it mostly refers to flora and fauna, meaning that ecocide would punish harming denizens of the natural world as a crime — no matter the adverse impact on human thriving.

Also note that ecocide would not merely punish polluting accidents or intentional environmental despoiling, such as Saddam Hussein’s opening the oil spigots during the First Gulf War. Rather, ecocidists (if you will) intend to criminalize large-scale extraction of natural resources and the widespread development of land for human uses. In other words, they intend to legally anathematize the very economic activities that have allowed so much of suffering humanity to escape from destitution, privation and want.

Ecocidists have already provided a vivid illustration of this intent. A few months ago, they held a mock trial in the chambers of the United Kingdom Supreme Court “prosecuting” two fictional CEOs of companies for developing the Alberta tar sands. Needless to say, they were found guilty as charged.

The “executives” have now been sentenced, one to four years in prison and one to participate in “restorative justice.” Vividly illustrating the hubris of the ecocide movement, the defendants were confronted by lawyers claiming to represent virtually everyone and everything on the earth:

Bannerman [one of the CEOs] also came face to face with representatives of those who had been adversely affected by the tar sands Ecocide: Jess Philimore represented wider humanity, Carine Nadal represented the Earth, Philippa De Boissiere represented future generations, Peter Smith represented birds and Gerald Amos provided a voice for indigenous peoples.

Talk about legal malpractice! Apparently, the legal representative for “wider humanity” — e.g., all of us — failed to argue that criminalizing the extraction of oil from tar sands would chill all large-scale energy production everywhere in the world, which would result in terrible harm to humans, including wild increases in the cost of heating our homes. The barrister representing “future humanity” similarly failed to note that ecocide laws would result in our posterity being born into a world of increased poverty and want. Nor did the lawyer representing “indigenous peoples” — many of whom live in resource-abundant areas — protest that ecocide would doom billions of his clients to permanent poverty by thwarting their ability to develop the wealth on their own land.