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Ecocide means to destroy the environment, but when considered etymologically, from Greek and Latin, it means to kill a house.
When we first saw, and took a picture, the Earth from space, our view of the planet changed. Suddenly “home” has a whole new meaning. Everywhere, as far as our technology knows, there is evidence on any planet like Earth-anywhere else that life can continue as we know it.
In the recent 11,700-year period of climate stability, that is what has become of our home planet, accelerating the spread and technological advancement of human civilization. While most have benefited in terms of material comfort, life expectancy and social support structures, this progress has especially occurred within a framework of thinking that sees nature as “other” – a a resource to be exploited, or an enemy to be defeated. The Oxford English Dictionary though means nature as “contrary to men.”
In this view, ever since the industrial revolution, we have become – at first ignorant, now distrustful and equal. know – ruined the biological, chemical and atmospheric systems in whose strong partnership we come far and wide. Greenhouse gas emissions are only part of this story. Gradually, with every fallen forest, polluted river system, extinction of species, oil spill, toxic waste coming out, nuclear or mining disaster, we create ecocide.
And because our legal system doesn’t take environmental degradation so seriously that we’re now beginning to understand these mandates, we’re doing it with impunity.
The word “ecocide” was first used on the international stage by Swedish Prime Minister Olof Palme at a conference around the UN in Stockholm (1972), as he said “The devastation brought about by the multi -scale use of bulldozers and pesticides is the outrage that is sometimes described as ecocide, which requires urgent international attention.”
Nearly 50 years later, the world is finally starting to pay that attention. Last month expert panel of leading international criminal and environmental lawyers, grouped by Stop by the Ecocide Foundation, suggested a legal definition in term, which is appropriate for the adoption of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC) as a fifth crime including genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes and crimes of aggression.
In the end!https://t.co/Hn0ypi5AS5
– Robert F. Kennedy Jr. (@RobertKennedyJr) June 26, 2021
Responding to the clear call of climate-vulnerable island nations Vanuatu and the Maldives, directly affected by sea level rise and severe tropical storms, such a move could be criminal, “unlawful or unwanted acts committed with the knowledge that there is a high probability of being severe and potentially ‘g extensive or prolonged environmental damage caused by the works. ”
The warmth of the response to this legal definition is remarkable. Distribution of articles in more than 100 publications around the world in the first week, from Financial Period on The mirror and from Bloomberg on The world, it also provoked political action.
From Bangladesh of those Caribbean of those UK (where the government’s amendment to the Environment Bill includes the newly released definition throughout), diplomats and politicians joined in a conversation that already included EU states such as France and Belgium and has the support of public figures as influential and diverse as Pope Francis and Greta Thunberg.
Since the International Criminal Court’s order is to prosecute individuals, adding ecocide to the list of crimes considered “the most serious concern of the international community as a whole” will make key corporate and political actors personally liable to criminal prosecution with any authorization. The state, however, must threaten their decisions severely and could cause widespread or long -term damage to the environment – thus creating an enforceable deterrent to prevent the outflow of finance from projects that could destroy ecosystems. There is nothing as focused on the mind as having one’s own freedom on the line.
In addition, the law of ecocide can be proved to be not only a stick but also a carrot. Setting a criminal parameter will not only control activity away from hazards – which acts as a kind of health and safety law for the planet – but is likely to stimulate innovation and progress in a healthy direction. in many sectors of the economy.
Many of the solutions we need to move to continue to be available – renewable energy, renewed agriculture, circular economy – but are not supported or developed to the extent that finance continues to flow towards the same old destructive methods, abandoning those who do. the right thing to disadvantage.
Criminalizing ecosystem destruction at the highest level can also enhance and strengthen the entire environmental law framework, supporting all those working to improve regulation and best practice, from activists. primarily to academics, scientists, NGOs and policy makers.
Even if there is no belief that committing this crime could be a silver bullet for all environmental disasters, or even prevent all ecocides, it is hard to see how the systems will support life on our planet can be protected enough – or indeed focused on Paris and UN Sustainable Development Goals realistically approached – without a “hard stop” intervention of this kind.
This year NDC synthesis report from the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change certainly suggests that we would not be good without it. Agreements of goodwill and elevated ambitions are clearly out of work.
But perhaps the strongest impact of defining and criminalizing ecocide as an international crime may be to begin to shift cultural and moral assumptions. Our understanding of our place, and responsibility towards, the natural world desperately needs an examination of reality.
Calling and condemning ecocide for what it can be is exactly what is needed if we are to begin to change our relationship with the Earth from a damaged one to a harmonious one. That would be the best way to ensure our children, and our children’s children, can still call this beautiful planet “home.”
Originally published on Common Dreams.
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of Children’s Health Defense.