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Vast Silliness About Ecocide

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The Guardian treats us to a call that ecocide should be made into a crime in international law. It is, as ever, just a resurgence of colonialism in a new guise. We upper middle class white folks should be telling those poorer brown folks out there how to live their lives:

Ecocide shares its roots with other landmark concepts in international law, including genocide. Indeed, ecocide and genocide often go hand in hand. Around the globe, ecological destruction is also decimating indigenous communities. To give just a few cases: Brazil’s Yanomami are facing mercury poisoning generated by the 20,000 illegal miners in their territories. 87% of Native Alaskan villages are experiencing climate-related erosion, even as they face growing calls to drill on their lands.

Conviction for ecocide would require demonstrating willful disregard for the consequences of actions such as deforestation, reckless drilling and mining. This threshold implicates a number of global and corporate leaders through their complicity in deforesting the Amazon and Congo basins, drilling recklessly in the Arctic and the Niger delta, or permitting unsustainable palm oil plantations in south-east Asia, among other destructive practices.

Maybe it is indeed true that we would like to have those South East Asian forests where Pongo Pongo oooks free. It might also be true that those who live there decide they’d like a few palm trees so that they’ve got something to eat rather than just oooks to consume.

Colonialism is us telling them what to do. Independence is them deciding what they do. I was, rather, under the impression that we were in favour of independence these days, against that imposition of wipipo desires on duskier bretheren.

But then given that today’s environmentalists are, largely, the same class that used to run the Empire – younger and unfulfilled children of the posher classes – that the method has changed but not the desire shouldn’t be all that much of a surprise.

There is also that technical point. Indonesia – as an example – has significant and substantial laws about who may grow palms where. They even insist, themselves, that the gold mining using mercury – doubly so for the mining is illegal, as well as the mercury method – in the Amazon is already illegal. So they’re making the mistake of thinking that passing a law makes the thing passed against disappear. Yet we’ve that proof they themselves offer that this is not so.

Fortunately we do have a method of stopping ecocide that works. Rich folks plant trees, clean up rivers, scour the air. So, what we need to do in order to save that environment is to get everyone rich. We even have a method of doing this – globalised free market capitalism. Worked for centuries now and there’s no reason it won’t continue to do so.

Onwards with plutocratic exploitation say I. After all, we do actually desire there still to be Pongo Pongo and a forest for that oook production, no?

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3 COMMENTS

  1. Who’s going to jail those Amazonian miners doing things that British courts have declared illegal? Won’t the Brazilians have something to say about us sending gunboats up the Madeira?

    Ah, they want World Police. That’ll be China then.

    What? You don’t want democratic control of world policing? China’s the biggest country, surely that means China runs the world? No? You *don’t* want democratic control, you want yourselves to be in charge? Explain that now.

  2. Aside from the imperialism or paternalism of it all (your superiors know what’s better for you!), I would love to know what they think eg Nigerians should be doing instead of “recklessly” making use of the natural resources the geology goddesses have endowed upon them. I appreciate that the median Nigerian, in fact most Nigerians beyond the elite and those working in the energy sector, have not been made as wealthy by oil as on paper they ought to have been. Resource curse and all that. But if they were to give up on oil, what do they get out of it, and what should they all be doing to develop instead?

    Presumably “recklessly” building factories or other attempts at industrialisation will also face eco-condemnation. Telling Nigeria’s urban population of 100 million or so to return to the fields and build some tranquil rural idyll of peasant farmers is essentially ordering them to accept endless grinding poverty for themselves and their descendents. On the other hand, it’s not feasible to leap from being a low-income country with low average education levels to a comfortable place where everyone makes a good living as sustainability consultants selling ecological development reports to one another – even if such a society were possible at all, you need a better starting point for it. So just what are they supposed to be doing to get less poor? Or in the ideal world of the green types suggesting these proposals, what should we mighty ones be permitting them to do?

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in British English
expunct (ɪkˈspʌŋkt)
VERB (transitive)
1. to delete or erase; blot out; obliterate
2. to wipe out or destroy

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