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« Ecocide - Josh 101 | Main | Strange brew »

More dangerous proposals

Here's another set of proposals being made under the green banner that might give decent liberal-minded people a few sleepless nights: a new crime of "ecocide".

Among the ideas currently gaining currency is adding a crime of ecocide to the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court (ICC).  If this idea is accepted, ecocide would join war crimes, aggression, crimes against humanity and genocide as a fifth crime against peace.

The rationale behind the campaign for a crime of ecocide is similar to that of other ecological legal initiatives; namely, that addressing environmental imperatives requires a seismic shift in attitudes, practices and culture, in both the corporate and political spheres.  Catastrophes such as Deepwater Horizon highlight the failure of existing mechanisms to ensure that the commercial world’s financial and economic prowess is matched by a duty of care for the planet on which it operates, and the rights of both its current inhabitants and those yet to come.

I think we can safely file 1 Crown Office Row Chambers under "rent-seekers".


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Reader Comments (45)

Wind Farm Owners tremble now!

Jun 2, 2011 at 3:42 PM | Unregistered CommenterJason F

Okay BH. Checkmate ;-)

I'm pretty sure Polly Higgins is the only person Ben Pile has actually called an eco-fascist.

But you have to admit, she is a very special case.

Jun 2, 2011 at 3:46 PM | Unregistered CommenterBBD

Yup, and here it is:

Jun 2, 2011 at 3:53 PM | Unregistered CommenterBBD

As far as I know, Deepwater Horizon wasn't an ecological catastrophe (it was a Human one, as many people died in the initial explosion).

Jun 2, 2011 at 4:01 PM | Unregistered CommenterRobinson

When you consider how many and how much hazardous materials go into renewable energy and energy efficient products you could argue that not all people would be treated the same under ecological laws.

Just think of the ecological damage being done to the environment by mercury from fluorescent lights being dumped in land fill sites. Who should be punished for that?

Jun 2, 2011 at 4:09 PM | Unregistered CommenterMac


True. And the horrors one reads about in China caused by pollution from the manufacture of solar panels. Of course, much of the harm done is to people, so it may not count.

Jun 2, 2011 at 4:13 PM | Unregistered CommenterBBD

Definitions for Catastrophe:

"An event causing great and usually sudden damage or suffering; disaster.

Sudden disaster of immense proportions that has severe consequences."

So Chernobyl, Deepwater Horizon, Ozone Hole & Acid Rain (to name but a few) would not be ecocide. I am assuming, of course, that habeas corpus would not be suspended.

Jun 2, 2011 at 4:27 PM | Unregistered Commentersimpleseekeraftertruth

Can they add the crimes of insecticide and herbicide?

Jun 2, 2011 at 4:28 PM | Unregistered Commentersteveta_uk

And the responsibility for this lies where exactly?

Jun 2, 2011 at 4:39 PM | Unregistered Commentersimpleseekeraftertruth

fuckoshima is also a catastrophe whether you are pro or contra nuclear.
It proves we cannot just rollout present nuke plans.
what the french are building in Finland looks like a nannystate construct anyways. when they build for themselves it is batteries of 4-6 plants with shared services (pools, cranes etc) that makes sense.

Jun 2, 2011 at 4:42 PM | Unregistered CommenterOhNoNotAnotherBBDComment


In my years as a practising solicitor in Brighton and Hove I have instructed this chambers on many occasions.

Never again.

Jun 2, 2011 at 4:47 PM | Unregistered CommenterHoveSkeptic

So will we be prevented from wiping out deadly E. Coli bacteria?

Jun 2, 2011 at 5:27 PM | Unregistered Commentergolf charley


Can we do something about the nutter please?

Jun 2, 2011 at 5:30 PM | Unregistered CommenterBBD


It's Ursula. I recognise the grammar.

Jun 2, 2011 at 7:15 PM | Unregistered CommenterJames P

Can I add one more please Bish? Your friend? :) Bob Watson is trying another scam on you brits by putting a price on the British countrside. I think he is planning another route for the communist-conservatives to gain the taxes that they are struggling to get from CO².

Jun 2, 2011 at 7:25 PM | Unregistered Commenterstephen richards

James P

I know - and Ursula is Phinniethewoo ... It's getting way beyond a joke.

Go to Climate Cuttings 53 and see for yourself.

Jun 2, 2011 at 7:34 PM | Unregistered CommenterBBD


So she is. I thought Phinnie's syntax was better than that, but perhaps the extra underwear causes constriction. TMI, I know...

Jun 2, 2011 at 7:47 PM | Unregistered CommenterJames P

Distinctly scary stuff. I wrote about this chapter 12 of my book, 'While the Earth Endures' (SMP 2009).

Jun 2, 2011 at 7:51 PM | Unregistered CommenterPhilip Foster

The International Criminal Court is another one of those fatuous entities that takes forever and spends billions to do little good, while arrogating to itself the power to do much harm.

Jun 2, 2011 at 7:59 PM | Unregistered CommenterJEM

Jason, that is just what I thought!

Jun 2, 2011 at 8:52 PM | Unregistered CommenterJosh


Must fly...

Jun 2, 2011 at 9:00 PM | Unregistered Commentersimpleseekeraftertruth


Dark, man, dark ;-)

And then I scrolled down to the next one and fled screaming from the room.

Jun 2, 2011 at 9:01 PM | Unregistered CommenterBBD

Breathing is next...

Jun 2, 2011 at 9:19 PM | Unregistered CommenterTomRude

I think that comes right after "Conspiracy to Lurk with Intent to Gawk" in the big book of stupid international jurisprudence...

Jun 2, 2011 at 9:28 PM | Unregistered Commentermojo

Deepwater Horizon was not a catastrophe. About 2 years worth of natural seepage was spilled into the gulf. Natural processes eliminated most, not all, of the spillage in weeks.

Jun 2, 2011 at 9:50 PM | Unregistered Commenterben


Jun 2, 2011 at 10:26 PM | Unregistered CommenterOhNoNotAnotherBBDComment

Simples, yes I spotted the Beeb story and put in unthreaded. Worth reading.

Ben, good point. Maybe an ecocide trial will take long enough for nature to get back to normal and so the accused would get off scot free.

Jun 2, 2011 at 11:05 PM | Unregistered CommenterJosh

BBD, yes that cartoon needs some kind of warning sign doesn't it. Scares me too.

Jun 2, 2011 at 11:07 PM | Unregistered CommenterJosh

Very good (and scary), Josh. Not to mention Uncle Joe...

Jun 2, 2011 at 11:18 PM | Unregistered CommenterJames P


re Fukoshima, is the nheadline - 3 meltdowns and no one even noticed?

Jun 2, 2011 at 11:54 PM | Unregistered Commenterdiogenes

Fortunately, the US is not bound by the travesty that is the ICC. In fact, we are no longer even a signatory. As long as we have our Constitution, it will likely remain that way.


Jun 3, 2011 at 1:12 AM | Unregistered Commentermark t

Well, I hope mark t is correct wrt to the US Constitution, though he may be a bit optimistic given the current leadership.

But if Ecocide is proclaimed a crime, I wonder who the perp would be here:

"Two conservation groups and a California resident have sued to stop construction of a SunPower Corp (SPWRA.O) solar power plant, saying the project would harm the rural area's wildlife, air quality and natural beauty."

Jun 3, 2011 at 1:55 AM | Unregistered CommenterJohn M

There are several signs of the eco-mentalists becoming increasingly desperate, including this.

They keep flying kites about the suspension of democracy being necessary to Save the World. Nothing could be a clearer manifestation of that desperation. And they're right. I have just seen the latest State of the Nation survey for New Zealand, and they measure attitudes to environmental issues. It has been going since 2001, though some measures only came in later.

A few snapshots, based on agreement with the following statements:

"If we don't act now we'll never control our environmental problems" Dec 2002 - 84.8%, Dec 2010 - 77.9%
"At heart, I'm an environmentalist" Dec 2001 66%, Dec 2010, 59%
"I would seriously consider buying a hybrid vehicle" Dec 2007 (debut) - 56.8%, Dec 2008 - 60%, Dec 2010 - 50.8%
"Threats to the environment are exaggerated" Dec 2001 - 22.7%, Dec 2010 - 39.1%

My fellow countrymen (and women) are clearly glimpsing the Emperor's nudity. I suspect the same is true elsewhere, indeed I recall seeing a global survey somewhere (WUWT?) that showed increasing scepticism about exaggeration of threats the environment.

It's not that Kiwis don't love the environment. Far from it. Most of spend a lot of our lives in regular communion with it. Fishing and hunting are the commonest pursuits imaginable, and perhaps that's why more of us are sceptical. If it's all doom and gloom, why has the fishing been getting better and better?

I'm rather proud that New Zealanders are of a sufficiently independent mind to shuck off the constant barrage of eco-calamity press releases masquerading as environmental journalism. Now if you Aussies would just catch up please. Yes, I know we're still in Kyoto but that's dead and buried (congartulations, Canada).

Oh, and BIsh - that OhnonotanotherBBDcomment nutter: Let him stay. He exemplifies the weird loons amongst Eco-alarmism's fellow travellers. And as has featured recently, it does the sceptical side of the argument good that we tolerate things with politeness, reasoned argument and good humour.

Jun 3, 2011 at 2:09 AM | Unregistered CommenterGixxerboy

2/3 majority required in the Senate to ratify a treaty - always difficult - and it could always be argued that our rights cannot be supeceded by a foreign law.


Jun 3, 2011 at 2:09 AM | Unregistered Commentermark t

mark t

Don't forget the EPA and the Supreme Court (only need one more liberal, after all).

Jun 3, 2011 at 2:28 AM | Unregistered CommenterJohn M

This is Ecocide has a website by the same name

Jun 3, 2011 at 2:38 AM | Unregistered Commenterandyscrase

If the environment gains legal rights does it also shoulder legal duties? Can then one sue the environment in case of a reverse disaster, ie lightning burning my house? Giving the "environment" legal entity takes us into nutter territory.

Why has Britain gone from quaintly eccentric to outright nutty?


Jun 3, 2011 at 2:49 AM | Unregistered CommenterNik

The EPA and SCOTUS have nothing to do with treaty ratification. Nor can the EPA impose crimes such as ecocide on the people... they are merely a regulatory aagency. SCOTUS can override a treaty as unconstitutional IIRC, though check that to be sure.


Jun 3, 2011 at 3:50 AM | Unregistered Commentermark t

Nik, the history on that question is long and storied, but the writing was on the wall a loooooong time ago. The US got lucky with its intense bout of capitalism then a couple successful (sort of) wars that propelled us into a feeling of superiority that our system worked better. Little did we know the cracks were already present...


Jun 3, 2011 at 3:55 AM | Unregistered Commentermark t

The author of the article has a Master’s degree in environmental law from the School of Oriental and African Studies. Odd.

Jun 3, 2011 at 6:05 AM | Unregistered Commentergeoffchambers

Didn't the EPA declare CO2 harmful?

Jun 3, 2011 at 9:16 AM | Unregistered CommenterJames P

I go into more depth about why Polly Higgins is an 'eco fascist' here. Actually, I try to debunk the ideas behind making 'ecocide' a crime, but the effect is the same.

Jun 3, 2011 at 10:31 AM | Unregistered CommenterBen Pile

There's a global movement for the pagan Gaian religion, promoted jointly by the U.N. and coca farmer and Socialist Bolivian President Evo Morales.

The first declaration of this U.N.-sponsored Gaian religion is:

"(1) Mother Earth is a living being."

More here:

Jun 3, 2011 at 1:09 PM | Unregistered CommenterGarry

"Polly Higgins will reflect on the new laws required to build bridges from our existing hierarchical world into a new holistic world, at an international as well as a community level. She will discuss Earth Rights and their shadow counterpart, the crime of Ecocide. Marko Pogacnik brings the ancient wisdom of geomancy, which balances the vital, emotional and spiritual levels of places, cities and landscapes to restore the subtle levels of life. Applying the principles learned from geomancy to examine and restore the imbalance within the community, the group will gain a deeper understanding of how to become lovers and protectors of the Earth."

Barking mad, both of them.

Jun 3, 2011 at 6:37 PM | Unregistered CommenterDreadnought


Agreed, but read the WGBU report and listen to the resonances.

Holistic indeed. And not a little frightening.

Jun 3, 2011 at 7:41 PM | Unregistered CommenterBBD

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