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Friday, November 26, 2010

Prosecuting Climate Change Criminals

Prosecuting Climate Change Criminals

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Daily Kos, November 16, 2010

People from around the world will not sit in silence while the U.S. fiddles with providing real solutions to climate change impacts. There is a growing movement to push for accountability of governments who fail to take action; a fossil fuel industry that peddles widespread death, sickness and the destruction of economies and environment; and climate deniers who obstruct comprehensive climate change laws with campaigns of lies and disinformation.  Citizens are filing lawsuits while countries and activists advocate prosecution of climate change criminals, discuss proposals for international forums for prosecutions and litigation to obtain damages for harm under existing precedent.

For 40 years, American Presidents have talked about global warming.
Over 20 years ago, Dr. Hansen of the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies warned that "global warming is here and coming more intensely as each year goes by." Today, some scientists and government officials are stating that current natural disasters, like the Pakistan floods and Russian fires, might be linked to climate change as these are the  climate change impacts earlier projected by scientists.
The costs TODAY of delaying action on climate change include the "sickening or killing [of] millions throughout the world." Each year, 300,000 people die and $125 billion a year of economic losses suffered during this financial crisis. Additional climate change impacts suffered TODAY include environmental racism, poverty, and destruction of natural resources.  Still, the U.S. does not have a comprehensive climate change law thanks in large measure to the fossil fuel industry and climate deniers peddling lies. In 2008, Dr. Hansen testified before Congress that the CEO's of the fossil fuel industry "should be tried for crimes against humanity and nature for purposefully misinforming and misdirecting the public in regards to global warming."  Rep. Markey was asked to comment about this testimony:
MARKEY: I think when history comes down to ultimately determine who was responsible, I think it will be that rather than accepting the science and making the modifications, they continued to fight this rearguard action. It's a pretty sad moment here, where you know the technology's there, the warnings from the United Nations, you know that debate is over, except in the minds of these executives that, if they can continue to cloud this debate, they believe they can buy more years. But as Dr. Hansen's saying, we don't have those years. So, yes, I do.

Last year, the leader of the Green Party stated that "Labour's failure to properly address the problem of climate change is 'nothing less than a political crime' " because hundreds of thousands of people die each year due to global warming.
Climate Change Crimes
People are recognizing that when countries, fossil fuel industry and climate deniers fail to take action to prevent death, illness and harms or knowingly cause devastating climate change with its attendant impacts, then they have committed a climate change crime. There is growing public discussion over whether government's failure  or political inaction to implement policies and laws to address climate change due to the "greed of powerful vested interests" is itself a crime against humanity. And people are also discussing whether the denier's climate science disinformation campaign constitutes crime against humanity.   It is one thing to question or be skeptical about particular science issues, and quite another thing to participate in a disinformation campaign based on lies and distortions of climate change science that impedes public discussion and understanding of an issue that is needed to protect everyone from climate change impacts that are harmful and deadly. The fossil fuel industry [biggest payers are the Koch brothers] has campaigned for decades to raise doubts about climate change with the assistance of Astroturf campaigns that "produce anti-global-warming studies, paid for rallies and Web sites to question the science, and generated scores of economic analyses that purport to show that policies to reduce emissions of climate-altering gases will have a devastating effect on jobs and the overall economy."  Just since the beginning of 2009, the fossil fuel industry has spent $500 million to lobby against climate change legislation and defeat candidates whose heads are not buried in the sand. One scientist believes that climate change skeptics and fossil fuel companies that have lobbied against a global climate change treaty have "clearly put the world at risk of far more adverse effects of climate change."
Civil Law Climate Change Conspiracy Lawsuits
Citizens have joined this movement, seeking legal accountability when people intentionally mislead the public given the gravity of the harms to people and environment caused by global warming. A 2008 report by the Congressional Research Service focused on the "growing phenomenon" of climate change litigation, which is based upon a number of federal environmental laws and civil actions, such as claims based on public and private nuisance, negligence, trespass and civil conspiracy.
Some have noted similarities between the tactics of the tobacco industry that "misled the public about the scientific evidence linking smoking to lung cancer and heart disease" and the disinformation campaign conducted by some in the fossil fuel industry about global warming. In 2007, the Union of Concerned Scientists issued a report on "how ExxonMobil uses big tobacco's tactics to manufacture uncertainty on climate science." [Readers, let us not forget the $25 million spent by the Koch brothers to finance a false climate change denial campaign. Suggest boycotting Georgia-Pacific products.] A book on the Climate Cover-Up: The Crusade to Deny Global Warming discusses several groups that promoted campaigns of climate change misinformation that may be linked to decreasing support by the public according to opinion polls.
Some have filed climate change lawsuits seeking to hold deniers legally responsible for a civil conspiracy that "delayed and otherwise interfered with individual and government action to address global warming, and consequently contributed to plaintiffs' injuries... ."

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