Climate Change as Crime Against Humanity


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

December 01, 2015
John Wight
From Iraq to Syria: Repeating a Debacle
Conn Hallinan
Portugal: the Left Takes Charge
Mike Whitney
Putin’s Revenge? The Fight for the Border
Sami Al-Arian
My Ordeal: One of America’s Many Political Trials Since 9/11
Bilal El-Amine
The Hard Truth About Daesh and How to Fight It
Pete Dolack
Solidarity Instead of Hierarchy as “Common Sense”
Dan Glazebrook
Rhodes Must Fall: Decolonizing Education
Colin Todhunter
Big Oil, TTIP and the Scramble for Europe
Eric Draitser
Terror in Mali: An Attack on China and Russia?
Gilbert Mercier
Will Turkey Be Kicked Out of NATO?
Linn Washington Jr.
Torture and Other Abuses Make Turkey as American as Apple Pie
Randy Shaw
Krugman is Wrong on Gentrification
Raouf Halaby
Time to Speak Out Against Censorship
Jesse Jackson
It’s Time for Answers in Laquan McDonald Case
Patrick Walker
Wake Up Zombie, Kick Up a Big Stink!
November 30, 2015
Henry Giroux
Trump’s Embrace of Totalitarianism is America’s Dirty Little Secret
Omur Sahin Keyif
An Assassination in Turkey: the Killing of Tahir Elci
Uri Avnery
There is No Such Thing as International Terrorism
Robert Fisk
70,000 Kalashnikovs: Cameron’s “Moderate” Rebels
Jamie Davidson
Distortion, Revisionism & the Liberal Media
Patrick Cockburn
Nasty Surprises: the Problem With Bombing ISIS
Robert Hunziker
The Looming Transnational Battlefield
Ahmed Gaya
Breaking the Climate Mold: Fighting for the Planet and Justice
Matt Peppe
Alan Gross’s Improbable Tales on 60 Minutes
Norman Pollack
Israel and ISIS: Needed, a Thorough Accounting
Colin Todhunter
India – Procession of the Dead: Shopping Malls and Shit
Roger Annis
Canada’s New Climate-Denying National Government
Binoy Kampmark
Straining the Republic: France’s State of Emergency
Bill Blunden
Glenn Greenwald Stands by the Official Narrative
Jack Rasmus
Japan’s 5th Recession in 7 Years
Karen Lee Wald
Inside the Colombia Peace Deal
Geoff Dutton
War in Our Time
Charles R. Larson
Twofers for Carly Fiorina
John Dear
An Eye for an Eye Makes the Whole World Blind
Weekend Edition
November 27-29, 2015
Andrew Levine
The Real Trouble With Bernie
Gary Leupp
Ben Carson, Joseph in Egypt, and the Attack on Rational Thought
John Whitbeck
Who’s Afraid of ISIS?
Michael Brenner
Europe’s Crisis: Terror, Refugees and Impotence
Pepe Escobar
Will Chess, Not Battleship, Be the Game of the Future in Eurasia?
Ramzy Baroud
Forget ISIS: Humanity is at Stake
Vijay Prashad
Showdown on the Syrian Border
Dave Lindorff
Gen. John Campbell, Commander in Afghanistan and Serial Liar
Colin Todhunter
Class, War and David Cameron
Jean Bricmont
The Ideology of Humanitarian Imperialism
Dan Glazebrook
Deadliest Terror in the World: the West’s Latest Gift to Africa