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Who is Guilty of Climate Crimes?


#1

Who is Guilty of Climate Crimes?

Margaret Klein Salamon

A fascinating exposé of the climate crisis awaits you in Peter Carter and Elizabeth Woodworth’s, “Unprecedented Crime: Climate Science Denial and Game Changers for Survival.” It is a comprehensive look at the climate crisis through a legal frame, discussing the relevant national and international statues and lawsuits, with a focus on the perpetrators of the climate emergency that confronts us all.


#2

I was really enjoying this piece until the author came to recommending nuclear fission as a power source.

Are you f _ _ _ing kidding? When the extraction of fissile material is an ecological and human rights nightmare? Ask Native folk from the Four Corners area if you doubt this! When fission leaves wastes that we don’t know how to contain for their natural lifespans, and that reliably introduce pathogenic mutations not only in humans, but in all beings with DNA?

Crimes of omission, that’s right. Like failing to consider that we as humans do not have a right to despoil for our short-term comfort or convenience what everyone—including future generations—needs.

Like failing to consider that Homo sapiens sapiens must, if it wants its adventure here to continue, be willing to live at a MUCH lower level of consumption than modernity has prepared us for. Failing to acknowledge the obvious Truth: we must live much more simply in order that all our relations may simply live.

Like failing to acknowledge that we are all actually free to move decisively in that direction, today. We don’t require new governments or regulations to make this possible. We are free to simply choose to join our poorer relations, who Truly have no choice but to live very close to the ground.

(But oh no, we couldn’t do that! Why not? Well, because we don’t want to! Because we no longer have the relational and practical skills, or the bodily hardiness and intelligence, to live like that! And we shouldn’t have to regain these!

Because we privileged moderns want to go on believing we’re special! That we uniquely deserve to live at a level of material consumption far greater than any other people’s ever…

Because we’re content with the pain of our species’ necessary transition falling primarily on “others,” whom hopefully we’ll never need to look in the eye!)

Yes, crimes of omission. Like failing to consider that this evolutionary process is not in our hands alone. That we are not, and will not be, “in control” of it.

We may not be able to prevent a radical dimunition in human population, as we inevitably step down into a lower-tech mode of living. Maybe it would be beneficial for everyone if our population was a lot lower for a while…

We could, I believe, help distribute the pain involved more equitably, if we so chose. But choosing means more than erudite, well-intentioned words…

And we could acknowledge that there would be gains for us in moving on into a Truly post-modern mode of being—not only losses.

Having lived without electricity and running water for almost five months this autumn and winter, my small community found there were many benefits in living more like most of humanity still does, and like everyone’s ancestors did.

Stepping down—way down, right now—need not mean immiseration. It could also mean mass emancipation, and an outbreak of joy and well-being.

But not if we remain stubbornly committed to our mental supremacy, which always feels that the humility of living close to the Earth equals humiliation.


#3

Climate destruction is a crime against humanity.

Concentrated wealth goes beyond climate denial propaganda. That money is also used to suppress dirty energy competition supplied from clean energy innovation. The Koch’s funding and influence of MIT is just one example of lost opportunities. Is Harvard also compromised?


#4

Badly misinformed author has not heard of Fukushima.

We know the US atrocity machine is killing humans for profit with weapons, radiation and chemicals. This writer spouts pablum and oatmeal mush about corporate crime.

The US government just increased the annual budget for pentagonian trashing of Earth by more than the entire Russian military budget.

Get real.


#5

This is the same anti-life corporate propaganda that convinced mothers that breast feeding is indecent animal behavior. The corporatists had their government adjust inheritance taxes upward to get the farming land for their corporations that don’t die. Then they instructed their government to adjust the inheritance tax back down once the deed was done.

Farmers living on the land do a lot of thinking and observing. Many years ago this surfer traded hats and became a hay farmer. Years went by and farmers began to notice I never lost hay to bad weather. I told farmers what fishermen taught surfers looking for waves about weather. Old farmers had receptive keen minds of youth because they needed the income from crops lost to bad weather.


#6

Yes to everything you say but remember 60 million Americans voted for Trump and then the 63 million that voted for Hillary.

It saddens me to say it is not going to happen any time soon. I do what I can, I believe the science, I grow my own food during the five months of summer. I drive Prius for the last 15 years, I am a true conservationists with flaws.

I would not know how to do what you did and what you suggest as we have paved over much of paradise.


#7

Nobody is guilty of non crimes. It is not a crime to doubt science which is non empirical .


#8

GRUMP’s latest estimates indicate that ~3% of global land surface area is covered by urban areas.

https://www.quora.com/What-percentage-of-land-area-in-the-world-is-covered-with-pavement


#9

‘But when we are complicit in “business as usual,” we are also perpetrators. My grandmother was a Holocaust survivor, and she impressed upon me the moral duty to confront evil. She felt so betrayed by the former friends who would not stand up for her and who avoided her on the street’

That’s true, if you as an individual had the power to stop the genocide. But if you as an individual had no such power, and would be quickly terminated if you tried, then you are not guilty, you are not a perpetrator, and you may also be a victim.

How were the rich able to maintain the horrifically unjust system of serfdom for 1,000 years? Should the serf’s be regarded as perpetrators, not victims?

The lack of action on climate change is not the root of the problem, and it’s the root we need to attack. The root of the problem is the vast inequity in wealth and income which has enabled to urber rich to effectively end democracy here. The majority of the people want action on climate change, and with a functioning democracy we’d have it.


#10

Once again you are completely off-base. First of all, your argument is a non sequitur (one of the most commonly committed logical fallacies). It also smacks of red herring, straw man, and moral equivalency, but I digress.

It is the doubting of non-empirical science that is issue here, although I would note that climate science is very much empirical. Rather, it is the commission of human rights violations (i.e. damaging the environment to the detriment of humanity) which constitute the crime against humanity. The fact that Exxon and others knew they were committing these crimes only goes to the depravity of their actions the potential damages they be made to paid.

From Wikipedia:

Crimes against humanity are certain acts that are deliberately committed as part of a widespread or systematic attack or individual attack directed against any civilian or an identifiable part of a civilian population. The first prosecution for crimes against humanity took place at the Nuremberg trials. Crimes against humanity have since been prosecuted by other international courts – such as the International Court of Justice and the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia and the International Criminal Court, as well as in domestic prosecutions. The law of crimes against humanity has primarily developed through the evolution of customary international law. Crimes against humanity are not codified in an international convention, although there is currently an international effort to establish such a treaty, led by the Crimes Against Humanity Initiative.

Unlike war crimes, crimes against humanity can be committed during peace or war.[1] They are not isolated or sporadic events, but are part either of a government policy (although the perpetrators need not identify themselves with this policy) or of a wide practice of atrocities tolerated or condoned by a government or a de facto authority. War crimes, murder, massacres, dehumanization, genocide, ethnic cleansing, deportations, unethical human experimentation, extrajudicial punishments including summary executions, use of WMDs, state terrorism or state sponsoring of terrorism, death squads, kidnappings and forced disappearances, military use of children, unjust imprisonment, enslavement, cannibalism, torture, rape, political repression, racial discrimination, religious persecution, and other human rights abuses may reach the threshold of crimes against humanity if they are part of a widespread or systematic practice.

Environmental rights violations can rise to the level of crimes against humanity.

There are two basic conceptions of environmental human rights in the current human rights system. The first is that the right to a healthy or adequate environment is itself a human right (as seen in both Article 24 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, and Article 11 of the San Salvador Protocol to the American Convention on Human Rights).[142][143] The second conception is the idea that environmental human rights can be derived from other human rights, usually – the right to life, the right to health, the right to private family life and the right to property (among many others). This second theory enjoys much more widespread use in human rights courts around the world, as those rights are contained in many human rights documents.

The onset of various environmental issues, especially climate change, has created potential conflicts between different human rights. Human rights ultimately require a working ecosystem and healthy environment, but the granting of certain rights to individuals may damage these. Such as the conflict between right to decide number of offspring and the common need for a healthy environment, as noted in the tragedy of the commons.[144] In the area of environmental rights, the responsibilities of multinational corporations, so far relatively unaddressed by human rights legislation, is of paramount consideration.[citation needed]

Environmental rights revolve largely around the idea of a right to a livable environment both for the present and the future generations.

You, apparently, desire to join in as a co-conspirator by furthering the disinformation campaign of the fossil fuel industry.


#11

We drive way too much, fly too much, ship and truck goods around the world too much, at too high cost and impact. “Retrofitting cars to electric and covering rooftops with solar panels,” as the author correctly supports are central solutions to pursue with ardent advocacy. But they can’t sustain our currently excessive, wasteful and economically inequitable amount of travel and transport. Air travel and air freight are mostly an exorbitant luxury, thus first to reduce to an essential use only. Travel by car is the next most obviously unsustainable, degrading and immoral abuse of technology. Ordering anything from Amazon increases traffic and undermines the economic support of local retail and book stores. Boycott Amazon. Trans-oceanic shipping and trucking international commodities likewise undermines national, state and regional economies built upon local economies that require far less fuel/energy to produce and distribute the same sort of essential commodities.


#12

What you are referring to is the legacy of unregulated cold war mining (predominately for nuclear bombs). Uranium mining hasn’t been done that way for decades. The fastest growing kind of uranium mining is ISL (in situ leach) which now accounts for the majority of uranium production. There are no tailings piles and it doesn’t have any of the radon-contaminated dust which was a major health hazard with early uranium mining.

This is the world’s largest ISL uranium mine:

Its ecological impact zone is minuscule compared to most other kinds of mining, and with reactors capable of high fuel utilization, the aggregate ISL mining impact could be reduced to less than one percent of what it is now. And if that isn’t enough, we don’t even have to mine uranium. We can collect it from seawater using adsorbents. Or we can breed it from thorium, which we also wouldn’t have to mine because we are already throwing away more than enough thorium to supply world energy demand in the various other kinds of mining we do.

“When fission leaves wastes that we don’t know how to contain for their natural lifespans,”

The main problem with current spent fuel wastes is that most of it was not fissioned. The products of fission themselves tend to have either short half-lives or their half-lives are so long and their decay energies are so low that they are only very weakly radioactive.

“and that reliably introduce pathogenic mutations not only in humans, but in all beings with DNA?”

The amount of radiation exposure humans get from nuclear power is dwarfed by the exposure we are still getting from nuclear bomb legacy contaminants, and the radiation levels from bomb residue is lower than natural radiation in most areas, and by far the largest source of radiation exposure in humans comes from medicine.

In saying we will need nuclear power, Salamon is in agreement with the assessments of James Hansen and the IPCC, but I strongly disagree that the kind of reactor we should be migrating to is the kind we use in nuclear submarines. Our civilian fleet started with a submarine reactor, which was then scaled up so it could use lower enrichment in the fuel without having to refuel more frequently. Even the guy who invented and helped develop the reactor for submarines strongly opposed their use for civilian power.

There are many major problems with the way we have been doing nuclear power, just like there are many major problems with the way we have been doing agriculture. But almost nobody says we should stop doing agriculture. If we know of better ways to do something that can be feasibly applied on a large scale, then maybe we should try out some of those better ways before we decide whether it is something we should stop doing altogether.

“…Homo sapiens sapiens must, if it wants its adventure here to continue, be willing to live at a MUCH lower level of consumption than modernity has prepared us for.”

It must transition to much more sustainable impacts of consumption. One cubic inch of fissile fuel could provide all of the energy a first world person currently consumes over their lifetime–including all the energy embodied in all their goods produced, transported, consumed, and disposed of. Collecting that much nuclear fuel could have a very small ecological impact compared to getting a lifetime supply of energy from, for example, burning wood and plant materials.

“we must live much more simply in order that all our relations may simply live.”

We must migrate to having a smaller ecological footprint. That doesn’t always entail living simpler or going back to more rudimentary lifestyles.

“We are free to simply choose to join our poorer relations, who Truly have no choice but to live very close to the ground.”

Yes, we have that freedom. And hardly anyone is going to exercise that freedom. But a great many of those poor who live close to the ground are going to aggressively pursue their freedom to migrate towards a first world standard of living.

“But oh no, we couldn’t do that! Why not? Well, because we don’t want to!”

Correct.

“Because we no longer have the relational and practical skills, or the bodily hardiness and intelligence, to live like that!”

You seem to have a good grasp of why this is not going to happen.

“And we shouldn’t have to regain these!”

We don’t want to, we don’t see any reason we should have to, and even if we made the attempt, the needed land access would require the wholesale overthrow of property rights–which is another thing that is not going to happen.

“Because we privileged moderns want to go on believing we’re special! That we uniquely deserve to live at a level of material consumption far greater than any other people’s ever…”

We believe progress can help to bring about desirable changes and improvements in our lives. And we believe this because we see many examples of how this has happened.

“Because we’re content with the pain of our species’ necessary transition falling primarily on “others,” whom hopefully we’ll never need to look in the eye!)”

The lifestyle we enjoy was largely built using the technology toolkit that we inherited, and we are going to add to that technology before passing on an even more powerful toolkit to those who follow.

“We may not be able to prevent a radical dimunition in human population, as we inevitably step down into a lower-tech mode of living. Maybe it would be beneficial for everyone if our population was a lot lower for a while…”

Those poor living close to the ground tend to have much higher reproductive rates than those living technologically advanced first-world lifestyles. Modernization is the only path toward voluntary depopulation we have found so far. All the other options tend to involve a great deal of coercion, or deliberate slaughter, or depend on the vagaries of calamitous epidemics and disasters.

“We could, I believe, help distribute the pain involved more equitably, if we so chose.”

Or, we could help distribute the benefits of modernity more broadly and equitably, if we so chose.

“Having lived without electricity and running water for almost five months this autumn and winter, my small community found there were many benefits in living more like most of humanity still does, and like everyone’s ancestors did.”

And now you are relaying these benefits thanks to some sort of computing device connected to the global internet, which is itself connected to many power grids, and all of it built and sustained with a lot of mining, manufacturing, and associated ecological impacts.

“Stepping down—way down, right now—need not mean immiseration. It could also mean mass emancipation, and an outbreak of joy and well-being.”

It might. Or, it could just mean the misery and hardship that the world’s poor are striving to escape.

“But not if we remain stubbornly committed to our mental supremacy, which always feels that the humility of living close to the Earth equals humiliation.”

It typically also means food insecurity, health insecurity, constrained options, and a hardscrabble existence with a shortened life expectancy–which most people tend to find undesirable. But whatever the reasons humans are not migrating in droves towards a retrograde lifestyle, they are probably rooted in human nature, which isn’t likely to change anytime soon.


#13

You want to save the climate and the world? Then take care of the corporate fascists. You cannot succeed at the first without first destroyin the other.


#14

There will certainly be days of reckoning ahead, what remains to be seen is how devastating these days become and if humans and many other higher lifeforms survive. Nuclear energy is a long term, many millennia nightmare with unknown consequences. The only answer, and one most folks don’t want to accept, is a shift to a sustainable way of living, simpler community oriented living, the way humans evolved to live. Sure we somehow got big brains but wise use? Not yet anyway. I personally like the O-O-O philosophy way to view situations. Large objects such as Earth are still finite and humans act like it’s endless. This has to end to survive.


#15

Ah yes, the nightmare of energy abundance–more than we can ever use.

“The only answer, and one most folks don’t want to accept, is a shift to a sustainable way of living, simpler community oriented living, the way humans evolved to live.”

If most people don’t want to go that way, most people won’t go that way, So that doesn’t even sound like a viable answer, much less our only answer.


#16

we are all guilty, no matter how hard you try. we live in wasteful times. costs more to grow your own garden per year. but you can try to do your part…put a brick in the toliet, save your rainwater (as long as you use it right off) to water your garden, use paper plates instead of styrofoam. at least it will make you feel better.


#17

I have heard of Fukushima, and by studying factual and authoritative studies we can discover:
There were no acute radiation injuries or deaths among the workers or the public due to exposure to radiation resulting from the FDNPS accident.

also that:
From a global health perspective, the health risks directly related to radiation exposure are low in Japan and extremely low in neighbouring countries and the rest of the world.

This report from WHO:
notes that the radiation doses from the damaged nuclear power plant are not expected to cause an increase in the incidence of miscarriages, stillbirths and other physical and mental conditions that can affect babies born after the accident.

So perhaps you could tell us what the author was “badly misinformed” about.
Radiation from Fukushima has caused zero deaths so far, and will probably cause zero deaths in the future. Unlike most other industrial accidents, eg Banquio Dam failure -171,000 deaths, Machchhu dam failure - 5,000-10,000 deaths, Jesse oil pipeline explosion - 1,082 deaths, San Juanico gas explosion - 500+ deaths.

Both Chernobyl and Fukushima show us that on the scale of other industrial disasters, casualties can be expected to be rather low, once again demonstrating the impressive safety of nuclear power generation. Which dispite all the lies and hysteria from the anti-nuke lobby is the safest of all power generation technologies.


#18

I’m sorry but any group that feels the Climate Mobilization Plan is a justified move of action for non-criminal response, has zero clue what would actually be required for a feasible transition.


#19

"using small nuclear fission, the type of reactors that power nuclear submarines, to provide industrial power and heating"
I appreciate the attempt by someone to incorporate nuclear design into their energy portfolio, but this doesn’t make any sense. When we talk about small reactors for nuclear fission we mean small modular not reactors used in a nuclear submarine. First of all there are some considerable differences between a nuclear submarine and a commercial nuclear reactors such as:

  • Nuclear Subs use HEU or Highly enriched uranium of a minimum 20% to upwards of 70%. Compare this to the limit of US commercial reactors of a max at 5% enrichment and classification of LEU or Low enriched uranium.
  • Nuclear subs by design have very compacted distances and ratios for cores, reactor vessels, containment, excess shielding etc. These design constraints are even more limited than SMR designs.
  • Nuclear subs do not use uranium oxide fuel, because they have limited availability on refueling.
  • Nuclear subs incorporate more materials with high neutron absorption into their fuel, due to the fact that the fuel life cycle is much longer in a sub than it is in a commercial reactor.
  • The operational temperature of a nuclear sub reactor is typically higher than that of a commercial nuclear reactor

Second of all in terms of reactor typing they are both light water reactors, so the type of reactor doesn’t actually change. This is may be nitpicky, but if youre going to describe a project and compare technologies its probably important to understand the terminology. SMR or small modular reactor describes the design of the reactor. LWR/ PWR (Light Water Reactor/ Pressurized Water Reactor) describes the type of reactor.

Third of all, as my personal opinion, there are inherent flaws with light water reactors that exist both in nuclear submarines and commercial nuclear reactors. Light water reactors require pressurizing coolant to force the boiling point above operational temperature. Your design is also limited by engineered safety systems that are satisfactory, but can be improved into passive safety and walk-away safe characterization, by utilizing thermodynamic advantages of MSRs or Molten Salt Reactors. Furthermore LWRs still utilize solid fuel, so theres the risk of a meltdown.


#20

Based on your comment, I’m not convinced that you understand what happened at Fukushima Daiichi. Heres an educational video that details the events that transpired:

I also must say that you really should do some research about commercial nuclear energy development.

  • “We know the US atrocity machine is killing humans for profit with weapons, radiation and chemicals.” This is not related to commercial nuclear reactor production. Commercial nuclear reactors in the USA, were never created for the development of weapons of any kind. Commercial nuclear reactors use considerably lower enriched uranium, and do not reprocess spent fuel waste. As for radiation exposure, commercial nuclear reactors make up .04% of your annual radiation exposure.

  • Additionally it should be noted that commercial nuclear energy development has never increased weapons proliferation worldwide. Weapons production facilities have been produced by military programs and classified government projects- they have not been developed under commercial utility use.