19 February 2012

Ecocide - A Crime Against Peace, a Crime Against Humanity, and a Crime Against the Future


Polly Higgins is an indefatigable UK lawyer whose main client is the Earth. Polly is on a mission to have the United Nations accept "ecocide" as an international crime against peace. (This is a photo of Polly presenting in Toronto in February 2012. And here is an audio recording of her February 2012 talk in Vancouver.)

She and her team at Eradicating Ecocide define ecocide as "the extensive destruction, damage to or loss of ecosystem(s) of a given territory, whether by human agency or by other causes, to such an extent that peaceful enjoyment by the inhabitants of that territory has been severely diminished."

Ecocide would belong to jus cogens, which is the highest rung of international law hierarchy. It would sit at the same level as crimes against peace, crimes against humanity, genocide, war crimes, slavery, torture and piracy. (Check out my Future Generations Party website to learn more about ecocide from a different perspective: stealing a viable future from future generations, or progenycide.)

An international law of ecocide would make corporate CEOs and heads of state legally responsible for their destruction of Earth. People and planet would come before profits. (See the video below.) Of course, it will be a big help if we can get the economics right, requiring corporations to internalize the cost of social and environmental damages they cause, which they are now allowed externalize (one example of indirect subsidies to these companies), before pocketing their profits. A simple change to the corporate charter everywhere would level the playing field — and make ecocide economically fatal.

And to get a sense of the type of destruction Polly Higgins is referring to, watch this trailer for the four-segment movie, Fever, by LifeMosaic. It's a four and a half minute heartbreaker.


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I would appreciate hearing your thoughts or questions on this post or anything else you've read here. What is your take on courage and compassion being an important part of the solution to the climate change emergency?