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Ecocide: a Crime Against Peace?

Just when you thought the environmental ­movement couldn’t get worse.

May 10, 2010, Vol. 15, No. 32 • By WESLEY J. SMITH
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It is worth noting that the website does not cite deliberate ecological despoliation among its examples of ecocide; it makes no mention, for instance, of Saddam Hussein’s releasing oil into the Persian Gulf and setting oil wells aflame during the first Gulf war. Its prime target is resource development, such as oil extraction from the Alberta tar sands and large mining projects. Under this view, the Exxon Valdez accident could be elevated from a civil wrong justly requiring Exxon to pay billions in damages to a crime requiring the jailing of the company’s CEO for life. There need not even be harm to any living organism: The proliferation of space junk is listed as ecocide.

One need not read between the lines to perceive that the real culprit isn’t pollution as much as it is human prosperity created by industrialization. Thus, declaring the need to “abolish planetary slavery,” the YouTube video “Ecocide: A Crime Against Peace” states:

We have come to accept that extraction of natural resources is normal. Just because it is normal does not mean that it is right. Two hundred years ago companies plundered for profit. Then it was called colonization. Today it is called business. 

  Back then, extraction often led to conflict. Sometimes it led to war. Now a century of “resource wars” is predicted. The battle to control oil and water has already started. Now natural resources are becoming the reason for war. Unless we change. Do you see what is happening here?

PowerPoint style, the screen then slowly rolls out the phrase “Extraction = Ecocide > Resource Depletion > War,” which melts into the summary statement “Ecocide > War.”

The concept of Ecocide is subversive on several levels. First, equating resource extraction and/or pollution with genocide trivializes true evils such as the slaughter in Rwanda, the killing fields of Cambodia, the gulags, and the death camps, while elevating undefined environmental systems to the moral status of human populations. Even more elementary is the fact that ecocide’s promoters want to destroy prosperity by criminalizing necessary economic activities. 

The cliché that green is the new red is proving all too true. Increasingly, environmental activism promotes utopian hysteria, undermines human exceptionalism by personalizing nature, and exhibits disturbing totalitarian symptoms. Ecocide fits squarely within this emerging zeitgeist. Tempted as we may be to laugh it off, we should instead recognize it as a potential threat to our collective future.

Wesley J. Smith is a senior fellow in human rights and bioethics at the Discovery Institute and author, most recently, of A Rat is a Pig is a Dog is a Boy: The Human Cost of the Animal Rights Movement.

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