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Impossible dream of the ecocide zealots

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ECOCIDE, the destruction of our natural habitat, is the latest enviro-Left cause to start burrowing up through power-hungry national and international bureaucracies while the public is looking the other way.

Its promoters want to make it a crime prosecutable by the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague which was created to deal with war crimes and which the United States prudently declined to join. Apart from the main actors in the Yugoslav war, the faces in the dock so far have all been non-white.

Ecocide is a politically Luddite idea that comes from the green refusal to accept that technology can continue its historic role of advancing the progress of humanity by replacing natural resources before they are exhausted. That it’s anti-capitalist and inevitably proto-totalitarian is a given.

Ecocidism is a medieval outlook that, until the global warming panic, would have belonged to religious fanatics walking the streets with billboards saying ‘The end of the world is nigh.’ People such as the Swedish teenager Greta Thunberg and US congresswoman Alexandria Ocasia-Cortez, author of the Green New Deal that has captured the Democratic Party, are in this orbit.

Ocasio-Cortez says she believes the world will end in ten years or so if we don’t abandon modernity and live pre-19th century lives. There are eight billion of us on the planet. Just for starters, how would the agriculture of two centuries ago feed us all? Capitalism, not socialism, freed us from famine.

We find ourselves living in a weird, would-be utopist world governed by the single criterion of CO2 emissions, and British governments think we can make a difference by going carbon-free even though our emissions are already negligible overall. The case for the criminalisation of ecocide at the ICC is set out in a BBC.com article here. https://www.bbc.com/future/article/20201105-what-is-ecocide

Global warming, whether man-made or a natural occurrence, is a global problem that demands a global solution, right? The desire to insert ecocide into the swiftly growing network of international organisations that operate far beyond the public’s reach is logical – not so right.

Whether it is the United Nations, the EU, the WHO of Covid infamy or any other component of the international alphabet soup, we know that it is not us nor even our governments who control them. They belong to an unaccountable bureaucracy that operates in a bubble of its own where ordinary mortals – who might, horror of horrors, disagree with the consensus – may not enter. None of these organisations can claim to be models of efficiency but their demands for more power are insatiable and will never stop.

The other thing that should concern us is the mania for criminalising everything to make it easier for those in power – it doesn’t matter whether they are on the Left or Right – to intimidate and coerce us. Hate speech is new but is already indelibly embedded in the criminal law of the West although it’s an abomination.

We laugh at the antics of activists like Greta with her petulant child’s ‘how dare you’ and young AOC, who is so charmingly ditzy, without realising the inroads they are making. They catalysed Extinction Rebellion which was allowed to talk to Michael Gove and demand that he stop Britain on the spot by declaring a climate emergency. (He said no, which might surprise some of this government’s many doubters.)

The public militants are the face of more sinister forces whose professed love for the planet and the poor of the developing world disguises their determination to replace capitalism for good with an impregnable socialist system from which individual freedom has been eradicated. Utopian, yes. Capable of doing a lot of damage before it is stopped, also yes.

At this stage, ecocide’s promoters think the ICC should concentrate on ‘crimes’ such as oil spills, deep-sea mining, industrial livestock farming and tar sand extraction. There is, however, no bureaucracy known to man which did not expand its writ when it could.

Edmund Burke discerned two centuries ago that it was in the nature of bureaucracy to grow. He foresaw big government as inevitable when government was minimal. What he couldn’t foresee was unaccountable, transnational bureaucratic government.

The BBC article quoted a warning from Professor David Whyte of Liverpool University that new international law would not be enough. ‘It’s really important to change our language and the way we think about what’s harming the planet – we should push through this crime of ecocide – but it’s not going to change anything unless at the same time, we change the model of corporate capitalism,’ he said.

Of course, changing the meaning of words is one of the Left’s most potent tricks and is already widely used to try to bend our thinking in favour of its aims.

This summer, forest wildfires in California were officially blamed on global warming when they were really the result of environmentalist policy. Greens have made the modern environment the go-to reason for every naturally occurring disaster even when these have been familiar throughout human history.

And never forget the scope for corruption. American lawyer Steven Donziger sued the oil giant Chevron over damage at an oilfield in Ecuador which had been exploited by Texaco before Chevron bought its rival. The Ecuadorian government signed off on the clean-up of the site but Donziger brought a class action for eco-damage that won an award of $8billion in the Ecuadorian courts. The case was finally thrown out by a New York appeal judge who said it was based on ‘fraud, bribery and corruption’.

Chevron was lucky. It escaped the eco-warriors but had the ecocidists’ hands been on the ICC, its boss might be sitting in jail today.

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Donald Forbes
Donald Forbes is a retired Anglo-Scottish journalist now living in France who during a 40-year career worked in eastern Europe before and after communism.

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