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Humanize From Discovery Institute's Center on Human Exceptionalism

Pope Supports Classifying ‘Ecocide’ as an International Crime

Read at National Review

The ecocide movement seeks to make environmental despoliation an international crime that can land the perpetrator — usually depicted as a corporate CEO, but also government leaders — into the dock at The Hague. This proposed “fifth crime against peace” would be deemed an evil equivalent to genocide and ethnic cleansing.

I have been warning that the ecocide movement — along with its first cousin, “nature rights” — has been gaining steam within establishment circles. And now, the Pope has lent his considerable prestige to support the movement. From an article on the ecocide movement in The Guardian:

Another big visibility boost to the campaign came last November when Pope Francis, addressing the International Association of Penal Law in the Vatican, declared ecocide a “sin” and called for it to become a “fifth category of crimes against peace” at the international level. . . .

Earlier this month (3rd September) he received a special eco-delegation from France in the Vatican palace, which included Stop Ecocide Advisory Board member Valérie Cabanes, who was able to personally urge Pope Francis to build on last year’s call by using his diplomatic and spiritual influence with global leaders and the Catholic community worldwide. Francis described his own “ecological awakening”, declaring that “we cannot make compromises if we are to live in harmony with nature”.

That’s very alarming. Ecocide does not even require actual pollution. Here is the definition:

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

Note that “peaceful enjoyment by the inhabitants” is a very broad term that is not limited to human beings. Rather it includes everything from grass, fish, and insects, to mice, snakes, and people.

Moreover, diminishment of “peaceful enjoyment” would not require actual pollution, but could mean a declining supply of forage or a loss of foliage caused by almost any use of the land, perhaps even simple urban growth. Add in the global-warming element and you have the potential for criminalizing almost all large-scale uses or development of the natural world.

Make no mistake. The point of ecocide is degrowth, which the radicals hope to achieve by criminalizing large-scale enterprise. For example, a mock trial in the courtroom of the English supreme court a few years ago found two hypothetical Alberta tar sands CEOs guilty of the crime because they brought forth oil from shale. (Never mind that the oil-shale contracts all include a remediation clause and require companies to post large bonds to guarantee that the land will be restored.)

Apparently, the Vatican agrees in the goal of reducing economic vibrancy. Again, from the article (quote by Fr. Joshtrom Isaac Kureethadam, coordinator of the sector on “Ecology and Creation” at the Vatican Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development):

“A change of our lifestyles personally and collectively has to begin with a moral awakening, an ecological conversion. We need a true conversion of the heart. We need to examine our unsustainable patterns of consumption. We need to become aware that our addiction to excessive quantities of goods, comforts and services come at the cost of despoiling the atmosphere, forests and oceans, and exploiting the world’s poor,” Fr. Joshtrom says. “Otherwise, we will keep on deceiving ourselves with a bit of recycling and greenwashing while the planet and the poor continue to languish.”

The best way to help the poor is to increase prosperity and allow areas of the world rich in resources to exploit their bounty.

With the Vatican on the side of ecocide extremists, look for the movement to make great strides in coming years — particularly, I fear, if Joe Biden wins the presidency.

Wesley J. Smith

Chair and Senior Fellow, Center on Human Exceptionalism
Wesley J. Smith is Chair and Senior Fellow at the Discovery Institute’s Center on Human Exceptionalism. Wesley is a contributor to National Review and is the author of 14 books, in recent years focusing on human dignity, liberty, and equality. Wesley has been recognized as one of America’s premier public intellectuals on bioethics by National Journal and has been honored by the Human Life Foundation as a “Great Defender of Life” for his work against suicide and euthanasia. Wesley’s most recent book is Culture of Death: The Age of “Do Harm” Medicine, a warning about the dangers to patients of the modern bioethics movement.