Climate Change as Crime Against Humanity

by

Have you ever found yourself thinking about the fact that climate change is both caused by and benefits a certain class of people, and generally does not benefit – and actually harms – another, far larger, class of people? Have you? And have you ever thought that, just maybe, this is not just a moral or ethical problem but a criminal matter? Something like a reckless or negligent crime against humanity? Have you? Well, maybe you have.

Maybe you’ve even thought, as I do now and then, that there’s no reason to hatch up yet another crime, another law  – since that’s just what reckless or negligent crimes against humanity would be. To be sure, there are already plenty of laws – prohibiting all sorts of horrible, exploitative, harmful things. They’re just not enforced. So what’s the use? What would it accomplish to frame climate change as a crime against humanity? I mean, you’re not going to drag anyone off to the International Criminal Court, are you? Or maybe you’ll set up your own tribunal, right here in the street. Why the hell not? It might feel good. And you can still boycott the fossil fuel industry – you and Desmond Tutu and so many others. Why not? It’s not as though – for all practical purposes – you’re forced to drive a car – forced to drive a car to get to work to pay the rent and pay for food and pick up groceries…

But let me tell you, as long as we’re discussing food, the meat industry, according to that UN report, is an even bigger climate change causer – or, if you prefer, bigger perpetrator of negligent and reckless crimes against humanity – than even the fossil fuel industry. I mean, that’s just a fact – just as the very air we breathe is the world’s leading carcinogen. And it’s only getting worse. I mean, I know that facts are somewhat unfashionable. Remember that old Mr. Gradgrind? Wasn’t that his name?

The point, however, is that if we’re going to meaningfully boycott the fossil fuel industry (which I’m all for, by the way) we shouldn’t stop there. I mean, it makes little sense to boycott one ecocidal industry while perpetuating others. For instance, did you know that the information technology industry is as big a polluter as the airline industry is? Look it up if you don’t believe me. And you’ll see, too, that search engines generate no small degree of CO2. That’s another one of those facts. At any rate, what was my point? Oh yeah, even though climate change is a horrible problem – a crime against humanity, not to mention a crime against so many animals, and forests, and rivers – it’s only an offshoot of a far larger problem. But you knew that, right?

I mean, just imagine what would happen if nuclear fusion were perfected – if an unlimited source of “clean,” “green” energy were available, and climate change were no longer a problem. What do you think all that energy – all that power – would be used to pursue? You’d still have to pay the rent. That wouldn’t change. Not with these laws. It’s not going to wipe out poverty, or malnutrition, or starvation either. That’s all, as a matter of fact, already technically feasible. I mean, you know that tons of food are willfully destroyed every day to keep up prices – exchange value, not use value, makes this world go round, right? Exchange value – a type of religious thought – backed up with guns, and all sorts of crimes against humanity – negligent, reckless, intentional, and otherwise.

In other words, there’s a whole hell of a lot to boycott beyond the fossil fuel industry – this entire coercive, unthinking society. If we can boycott that – I don’t know. Perhaps a non-coercive, thinking society can emerge from the former. One sees little hints of this here and there, from time to time.

Elliot Sperber is a writer, attorney, and contributor to hygiecracy.blogspot.com He lives in New York City, and can be reached at elliot.sperber@gmail.com, and on twitter @elliot_sperber

Elliot Sperber is a writer, attorney, and adjunct professor. He lives in New York City and can be reached at elliot.sperber@gmail.com and on twitter @elliot_sperber

Like What You’ve Read? Support CounterPunch
July 28, 2015
Mark Schuller
Humanitarian Occupation of Haiti: 100 Years and Counting
Lawrence Ware
Why the “Black Church” Doesn’t Exist–and Never Has
Peter Makhlouf
Israel and Gaza: the BDS Movement One Year After “Protective Edge”
Eric Draitser
China’s NGO Law: Countering Western Soft Power and Subversion
Paul Craig Roberts - Dave Kranzler
Supply and Demand in the Gold and Silver Futures Markets
Carl Finamore
Landlords Behaving Badly: San Francisco Too Valuable for Poor People*
Michael P. Bradley
Educating About Islam: Problems of Selectivity and Imbalance
Binoy Kampmark
Ransacking Malaysia: the Najib Corruption Dossier
Michael Avender - Medea Benjamin
El Salvador’s Draconian Abortion Laws: a Miscarriage of Justice
Jesse Jackson
Sandra Bland’s Only Crime Was Driving While Black
Cesar Chelala
Effect of Greece’s Economic Crisis on Public Health
Mel Gurtov
Netanyahu: An Enemy of Peace
Joseph G. Ramsey
The Limits of Optimism: E.L. Doctorow and the American Left
George Wuerthner
Bark Beetles and Forest Fires: Another Myth Goes Up in Smoke
Harvey Wasserman
Will Ohio Gov. Kasich’s Anti-Green Resume Kill His Presidential Hopes?
Jon Langford
Mekons Tour Diary, Episode 4, a Bowery Ballroom Blitz
July 27, 2015
Susan Babbitt
Thawing Relations: Cuba’s Deeper (More Challenging) Significance
Howard Lisnoff
Bernie Sanders: Savior or Seducer of the Anti-War Left?
Martha Rosenberg
Big Pharma’s Profiteers: You Want Us to Pay What for These Meds?
John Halle
On Berniebots and Hillary Hacks, Dean Screams, Swiftboating and Smears
Stephen Lendman
Cleveland Police Attack Black Activists
Joshua Sperber
What is a President? The CEO of Capitalism
Patrick Cockburn
Only Iraq’s Clerics Can Defeat ISIS
Ralph Nader
Sending a ‘Citizens Summons’ to Members of Congress
Clancy Sigal
Scratch That Itch: Hillary and The Donald
Colin Todhunter
Working Class War Fodder
Gareth Porter
Obama’s Version of Iran Nuke Deal: a Second False Narrative
Zoe Konstantopoulou
The Politics of Coercion in Greece
Vacy Vlanza
Without BDS, Palestine is Alone
Laura Finley
Adjunct Professors and Worker’s Rights
Jon Langford
Mekons Tour Diary, Episode Three, Where We Thrill Everyone by Playing Like “Utter Bloody Garbage”
Weekend Edition
July 24-26, 2015
Mike Whitney
Picked Out a Coffin Yet? Take Ibuprofen and Die
Henry Giroux
America’s New Brutalism: the Death of Sandra Bland
Rob Urie
Capitalism, Engineered Dependencies and the Eurozone
Michael Lanigan
Lynn’s Story: an Irish Woman in Search of an Abortion
Paul Street
Deleting Crimes at the New York Times: Airbrushing History at the Paper of Record
ISMAEL HOSSEIN-ZADEH
Making Sense of the Iran Nuclear Deal: Geopolitical Implications
Andrew Levine
After the Iran Deal: Israel is Down But Far From Out
Uri Avnery
Sheldon’s Stooges: Netanyahu and the King of Vegas
David Swanson
George Clooney Paid by War Profiteers
ANDRE VLTCHEK
They Say Paraguay is in Africa: Mosaic of Horror
Horace G. Campbell
Obama in Kenya: Will He Cater to the Barons or the People?
Michael Welton
Surviving Together: Canadian Public Tradition Under Threat
Rev. William Alberts
American Imperialism’s Military Chaplains
Yorgos Mitralias
Black Days: August 4th,1914 Germany and July 13th, 2015 Greece