Against Humanity

by | Apr 11, 2010

Juliette Jowit reports in the Guardian that a “British campaigner urges UN to accept ‘ecocide’ as international crime“.

“Ecocide” is defined as

“The extensive destruction, damage to or loss of ecosystem(s) of a given territory, whether by human agency or by other causes, to such an extent that peaceful enjoyment by the inhabitants of that territory has been severely diminished.”

Of particular interest is this passage…

Supporters of a new ecocide law also believe it could be used to prosecute “climate deniers” who distort science and facts to discourage voters and politicians from taking action to tackle global warming and climate change.

The key premise of the campaign is that,

extraction [of resources from the planet] leads to ecocide, which leads to resource depletion, and resource depletion leads to conflict.

Thus, “ecocide” is equivalent to genocide.

The first passage quoted above reveals the truth. What environmentalism objects to is human agency.

It is a twist of logic that has made equivalence of humanity’s ability to transform its own predicament and a crime against humanity.

Humanity, in other words, is a crime against humanity.


  1. DavidNcl

    Ayn Rand called it “Anti-Life”

  2. Alex Cull

    It’s the “or by other causes” bit that intrigues me. It implies, does it not, that if an ecosystem is damaged by something other than “human agency” – a volcanic eruption, let’s say, a meteorite impact or a forest fire caused by a lightning strike, this would also be ecocide. Which would be silly. Or am I missing something? Looking at the Guardian thread, Arbuthnott has made this very point; no-one else seems to have taken it up.

    On another note, “extraction [of resources from the planet] leads to ecocide” leads me to ask the question: when resources are extracted from the planet, where do they go? The answer is that the resources are still on the planet, surely. Nothing is sent away to Mars or Venus. Everything that is extracted, used, processed, burnt, eaten, excreted etc., whether by humans, plants, insects or bacteria, is still on the planet. We are “the planet”, in that sense.

    Fascinatingly bizarre, the whole thing.

  3. Robert of Ottawa

    Hmm … doesn’t this definition include farming?

  4. Philip

    Alternatively, failure to extract leads to failure to develop, which leads to poorer lives, and poorer lives lead to unnecessary deaths. Thus a law of “ecocide” is a way to achieve genocide, and Higgins should be prosecuted for crimes against humanity.

    I’m not sure whether or not this makes more sense than the original argument?

  5. Editors

    Philip, the original argument certainly makes no sense.

    But you successfully demonstrate that to deprive people of the means to develop is to cause deaths.

    Higgins should be ignored as a lunatic. It’s hard to get the measure of how influential she and her grotesque campaign actually are (some interesting links being dug up at wattsupwiththat), but it should nonetheless be seen for what it is – an intention to use supra-democratic institutions to produce a political change without ever winning the argument.

    The Guardian’s totally uncritical piece gives this toxic idea free airtime.

  6. George Carty

    @ DavidNcl

    The Randians righly condemn radical environmentalism, but I wouldn’t be happy quoting them as their own ideology also justifies genocide (for different reasons).

  7. geoffchambers

    Strangely, this article doesn’t come up if you get into the Guardian site via “Environment” or “Climate Change” but only via “Conservation”. Maybe there’s some difference of opinion among the editors as to its value…
    Comments on the thread following are running massively against the article. ishmael2009 (11 Apr 2010, 9:47AM) has this to say:
    “Ms Higgins also is a co-founder of Desertec – a consortium of businesses that want to set up huge solar panels in North Africa to supply electricity to Europe.
    Whilst this is admirable, many analysts believe it is not currently viable.
    “What WOULD make it viable is if coal, oil and other forms of power generation were found to be contributing towards ‘ecocide’ and power company directors could be prosecuted for that”.

  8. MakingSense-icide

    “doesn’t this definition include farming?”

    actually killing germs on a wound would count – a dab of disinfectant really buggers up their “peaceful enjoyment” no end

  9. Gordon Walker

    A very long time ago I read a biography of Albert Schweitzer that attributed to him the following:-

    “He prayest best who lovest best
    all things both great and small
    The streptococcus is the test
    I love him best of all!”

    I think this was meant ironically. Nowadays it would be quite impossible to make that distinction.

  10. Dominic

    It’s interesting that Ms Higgins sees no conflict of interests over the Desertec proposal to route electricity from N Africa to Europe.

    With her highly developed sense of ethics, surely she should see such behaviour as the worst kind of neo-colonialism?

    Or does her moral compass begin to spin when it is no longer employed to direct her towards personal financial gain?

  11. Sceptical Guardian Reader

    Crikey! These people have completely lost louch with reality. This proposal is so insane I don’t know what to say…

  12. David P

    If “resources” are not extracted, they cannot be described as resources at all. We often hear about the Earths resources but it is not explained what the Earth will use them for if we leave them where they are!

  13. Philip

    Unextracted resources are presumably “virtual” resources and therefore useable in computer models to help explain unexpected dips and rises.

  14. Paul Boyce

    Correct me if I’m wrong, but isn’t the usual advice when you’re in a hole to stop digging?

    I’m pretty certain though, it’s definitely not to find a bigger and better shovel and to start digging faster.

  15. Yarmy

    I liked Juliette’s “Climate Deniers”. Do people really deny that there’s a climate? If so, they should definitely go to prison. :-)

  16. Blue Craze

    Dwellers in “Green Mansions” such as Al Gore and Hollywood Vigilantes extract more than average, so they should be first in line for the gallows.

  17. Fred

    Guess that means India, China & South Africa will be the first charged over their rapid and massive expansion of coal burning.

    Sucks to be a 3rd world country suffering under the heel of 1st world legal tyranny.

  18. Tony

    “Guess that means India, China & South Africa will be the first charged over their rapid and massive expansion of coal burning” ~ why? These countries have a much lower per capita carbon footprint than the Western countries, & that’s not even taking into account historical emissions.

    “On another note, “extraction [of resources from the planet] leads to ecocide” leads me to ask the question: when resources are extracted from the planet, where do they go?” ~ profits from them go to the rich, toxic pollution from them goes to the poor. Don’t you know anything?

    You people are pathetic, thinking you can disprove science with private school debating club word games. BTW, the term “ecocide” has been promoted by Evo Morales, who does more for humanity in 5 seconds than any of you smirking prats would do in 100 life times.

  19. Yarmy

    Tony says:
    April 16, 2010 at 2:02 am

    “These countries have a much lower per capita carbon footprint than the Western countries”

    The environment doesn’t care about per capita amounts, only absolute amounts. Environmentalists on the other hand…

  20. Sceptical Guardian Reader


    I take acception to your assumption that I went to a private school. You don’t know anything about me, although “smirking prat” is a little closer to home.

    But that is by-the-by: the idea of of classifying resource extraction as a crime is literally insane. Every time I breathe I extract oxygen from the atmosphere, the phrase “extraction leads to ecocide, which leads to resource depletion, and resource depletion leads to conflict.” suggests my resperation is an act of war – lunacy!

  21. Mooloo

    Hmm … doesn’t this definition include farming?

    Better yet, it includes stopping farming, since some animals prefer that environment to forests.

    So we have to have farms, but not have farms.

    Supporters of a new ecocide law also believe it could be used to prosecute “climate deniers” who distort science and facts to discourage voters and politicians from taking action to tackle global warming and climate change.

    Which, of course, it couldn’t. As we know “denialism” is a thought crime. The people actually “raping” the environment are believers (Shell Oil, say). At least in public, though I doubt they are in private. So legislation for ecocide is irrelevant.

    To stop denialism they would need to enact legislation that would basically prevent free speech. Just as really loopy denialism cannot be prevented (Holocaust, AIDS etc). I’m sure they would love to, but let’s hope they never get close.

  22. Alex Cull

    Tony, my point was simply that nothing really gets extracted from the planet – anything produced by mining and agriculture stays on the planet and is ultimately recycled by nature over time. The profits are another matter, of course.

    I would be interested to know how useful and practicable you think “ecocide” legislation would be, as opposed to enforcing/strengthening existing environmental legislation. For instance, when proponents say “extraction leads to ecocide”, what would that prohibit exactly? Or maybe it would be better to ask: what would that not prohibit? When any of us do anything – human, animal or plant – we “extract” stuff – i.e., move nutrients, minerals, etc., from one place to another; nothing happens in a vacuum – something somewhere has to be killed or destroyed or displaced in the process. Even Evo Morales’s coca growers have to destroy or displace something in order to produce their crop. What happened to the plants and animals that previously occupied that land? What about their rights?

    From the thisisecocide website: “Non-ascertainable ecocide describes the consequence, or potential consequence, where there is destruction, damage or loss to the territory per se, but without specific identification of cause as being that which has been created by specific human activity eg. destruction caused by hurricane, volcanic activity, rising sea levels.”

    Now I may be an ignorant fellow, compared to yourself and the illustrious Mr Morales, but it seems to me that the “ecocide” proponents are anthropomorphising nature. Someone on the thisisecocide website commented: “If made an international law as it reads, we should be trying trees for the inhibition of the growth of other plants around their root systems”.

  23. Philip


    You are right that word games cannot disprove science. Making measurements that contradict an established scientific theory does that. Nonetheless, the proposed ecocide law is so daft and so scary, that it is ripe for a little gentle fun. Would you want put an end to that as well?

  24. Fred


    thnx for spanking Tony . . . he might be to dumb or blind to understand what you said, but it saved me from having to whup his greenie head with some facts & logic.

    Tony . . did you pass 5th grade science?

  25. ADE

    You had better add G.Brown andED. Miliband to the ecocide list,they have signed up for Indonesian Palm-oil plantations which allows rain forest to be replaced by the bio-fuel and soap crop.
    The Orang-Utangs and other animals are “killed” and the flora and fauna destroyed,all in the name of false climate change.

  26. Vinny Burgoo

    Tony, you do know that President Morales is himself an ecocide and a climate criminal, don’t you? He and his fellow countrymen have, for at least two decades, been among the world’s greatest per capita emitters of greenhouse gases. (Bolivia’s world ranking: 8th in 1990, 12th in 1995, 11th in 2000, 12th in 2005. For comparison, the USA was 11th in 2005 and the UK was 43rd. CAIT 7.0.) This is mostly because they are destroying their forests.

    What has Morales done about this? Well, he has demanded that climate criminals pay reparations to climate victims (which would see Bolivia paying Bolivia compensation for Bolivia having destroyed Bolivia’s forests) and he has called for the word’s wealthier ecocides to pay the world’s poorer ecocides not to cut down any more forests (though, alas for Morales, yesterday his anti-capitalist happening in Cochabamba decisively rejected such schemes, saying they were a form of colonialism or something) and he has called for everybody to be more like ‘indigenous peoples’, whose ineffable wisdom is Mother Earth’s last hope, and …

    Nothing. He’s done nothing to reduce his country’s emissions. A lot of declarations, rants and slogans (‘Planeta o Muerte!’) directed at naughty white people, most of whom are less guilty, global warming-wise, than his own countrymen, but nothing to actually reduce natural gas-producing, mineral-extracting, forest-chopping Bolivia’s own contributions to global warming.

    So what – apart from a lot of neo-hippy blather and sticking two fingers up to The Man – has Morales done for humanity? I’m all ears.

  27. George Carty

    Indeed, I wonder if some of the droughts plaguing Africa (which Greens love to blame on CO2) are really caused by deforestation…

  28. Vinny Burgoo

    Deforestation might have some effect on rainfall (and on erosion etc), and bad woodland management has been shown to increase human suffering during African droughts (see below), but the main reasons that so many Africans suffer during droughts are bad government, human overpopulation, livestock overpopulation and, perhaps surprisingly, NGOs – they encourage once-nomadic pastoralists to concentrate around feeding stations and boreholes and allow them to build their herds up to unsustainable levels.

    NGOs also save lives, of course, and not just by providing emergency relief. There was an interesting programme in Niger a few years ago. A European charity taught the locals how to manage their trees properly. When the next drought came along, people who had participated in the scheme fared better than those who hadn’t. This was partly because they had more firewood to sell and were thus able to buy more food to keep them going until their crops recovered. This effect had been anticipated; indeed it was one of the reasons the scheme had been set up. But there was also an unexpected benefit: participation in the scheme had got people used to talking to NGOs. This enabled them to get a larger share of emergency relief when the rains failed.

    I’m a bit dubious about the long-term utility of that second effect. Let’s flood Africa with even more NGOs so that Africans can learn how to ask NGOs for NGO food when the next (possibly NGO-exacerbated) natural disaster occurs. Ngorongoro!


Leave a Reply to Mooloo Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published.