Friday, September 30, 2011

Is 'Insanity' A Valid Defense To Ecocide?

Do you remember the science fiction movie The Minority Report?

In that scenario people were prosecuted for crimes they were going to commit in the future!

Those future crimes were "envisioned" by several future predicting mutant "precogs", who could detect what people would do during their lifetimes, and if a crime was detected, those people living in the here and now were prosecuted in the here and now, the present.

Currently there is abundant ecological, climate disaster misinformation or myth, which posits that all the ecological, climate change induced death or destruction is going to happen in the future, that it will happen to "our children", not to this generation.

To be sure, there is a reality close to that, in the sense that the results of ecological crimes happen in very slow motion as it were, or in the sense that climate change as a result of human activity in the here and now, seems to us to be very, very slow to take place.

The result is that when some types of ecological wrong are done, when pollution actually takes place at a specific time in the here and now, there can be a long span of time before the results are readily visible.

Add to that the fact that the Earth's ecosystem tends to spread the damage in an attempt to insure dilution of the damage, to spread it among the many so to speak, it can appear to be even more of a slow motion process, in terms of human capacity to detect those effects.

All these difficulties come into play when one considers ecocide to be a future event, because the question arises: "Is ecocide a future crime or a crime in the here and now?"

Because these activities of pollution are conducted in the here and now, but the resulting ecocide is going to happen in the future, we sometimes have a difficult nexus to prove.

The lesson comes home when we realize that many deaths, along with incredible destruction, is happening now, has happened for a generation or so, and therefore our grandfathers and grandmothers did us much wrong.

If ultimate Ecocide happens it may well be in the future generation where billions of people perish as a result of acts that began to be done before they were born, acts that continued for decade upon decade, and in many cases acts still taking place in the world they will be born into.

This issue is more than science fiction in some experts' minds, because not only do they see the damage being done now, as a result of crimes committed decades ago, they also see that the deadly results will only get worse.

One Dredd Blog post deals with an actual case in a civil court, not a criminal court, in the here and now, titled "A Case of Big Oil vs. Climate Change", where polluting companies were held to be a potential cause of climate change damage.

The Dredd Blog System has also considered some aspects of this legal issue over the years, in posts such as The Criminally Insane Epoch Arises, Ecocide: Evidence Of Toxins of Power, Dumb & Dumber & Bleak & Bleeker, and The Peak of Sanity.

Now, a mock trial, of the type law schools hold every year, is taking place in England's Supreme Court:
Top lawyers put fossil fuel bosses on trial in the UK's supreme court in a mock case to explore the crime of ecocide - environmental destruction - which is being considered by the UN ... It's a grim list: genocide, crimes against humanity, crimes of aggression (such as unprovoked invasions) and war crimes. All are recognised by the UN as crimes against peace and prosecuted through the international criminal court.

But should the bosses of polluting companies and the leaders of environmentally-unfriendly states join those responsible for mass murder in the dock. They could if a fifth crime against peace - ecocide - joined that list of human evils? The United Nations is now considering the proposal and the first test of how a prosecution for ecocide would work takes place on Friday, with fossil fuel bosses in the dock at the UK supreme court in London. It is a mock trial of course, but with real top-flight lawyers and judges and a jury made up of members of the public. The corporate CEOs will be played by actors briefed by their legal teams.
(Ecocide ... Global Crime?). The issue considers what is literally the largest life and death case on the planet.

The stakes could not be greater, so stay tuned.

The next post in this series is here.

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