By Larry Glass and Carrie Tully
One of the groups focused on Climate Change that has gotten my attention is the Extinction Rebellion. They’ve recently started talking about the crime of ecocide.
What is ecocide? I first heard the concept in relationship to Vietnam, where over a period of ten years the United States government sprayed 19 million gallons of powerful herbicides, including Agent Orange, across the countryside in Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos to deforest the countryside and expose enemy sanctuaries during the Vietnam War. The dioxin-laced chemicals defoliated the jungle and caused cancers, neurological disease and birth defects in villages nearby. While the total number of victims is not clear, Vietnamese groups claim the number to be more than 3 million. In 1970, Yale biologist Arthur Galston invoked that intentional destruction to call on the world to outlaw what he called “ecocide.”
Damage to nature has become so extensive and widespread around the world that many environmentalists speak of ecocide to describe numerous environmentally devastated hot spots. Besides Vietnam, prime examples of ecocide include:
- Ukraine where the Chernobyl nuclear plant exploded in 1986 and left the now-deserted area dangerously radioactive;
- Northern Canada’s tar sands, where toxic waste pits and strip mines have replaced 400 square miles of boreal forest and boglands;
- The Gulf of Mexico, site of the Deepwater Horizon disaster that killed 11 people, spilled at least 168 million gallons of crude oil into the ocean over 87 days and killed countless marine mammals, sea turtles, fish and migratory birds;
- Brazil in the Amazon rainforest, where rapid deforestation encouraged by Brazilian President Bolsonaro is devastating the Amazon rainforests.
In December, the Belgian Foreign Minister asked International Criminal Court member-states to examine the possibility of adopting ecocide as a crime. A member of Belgium’s Parliament has also proposed a bill to criminalize ecocide. And French lawmakers are working on legislation to make ecocide an offense punishable by fines and prison sentences.
At least ten countries have national ecocide laws already, including Vietnam, which enacted the law in 1990. Now the International Court is considering making ecocide the fifth international crime they would enforce. Maybe it’s time to start the discussion in this country.
The Nordic AquaFarms project continues to move forward and the developers of this project deserve acknowledgement for reaching out early and often to environmental groups and the public and for their willingness to meet and answer questions on a regular basis. That said, we don’t agree with Humboldt County’s decision to only require a Mitigated Negative Declaration (MND) under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). This project is substantial, consequential, and is breaking new ground in California, so the NEC and other groups believe it requires a full Environmental Impact Report.
The NEC and CSH file Lawsuit Against Humboldt County
Speaking of MND’s versus EIR’s, this same issue has caused the NEC to join with Citizens for a Sustainable Humboldt (CSH) in filing a lawsuit against Humboldt County for not requiring an EIR on the Mega-grow known as Rolling Meadows Ranch near the community of McCann in Southern Humboldt. After filing our case against Humboldt County we became aware that there is a Timber Harvest Project called the “Tickle THP” that is proposed for the same property. The first question that comes to mind is what is the cumulative impact of these two projects?
NEC Staff Operations
This season the NEC staff is really packing a punch with all the exciting programs and we have planned. To celebrate Earth Week we had our second annual Trash-a-thon cleanup and fundraiser. We thank our community for its support in making this a wonderful event!! We will reveal the final numbers in our next issue of EcoNews. Stay tuned!
Our next big project is Craft for the Coast: Trash Art Contest in July. We are putting out the call to all trash crafters and upcycling artists! We want you to create a piece of trash art and enter to win prizes! (Submission deadline is July 16). We will have an outdoor art show on Saturday, July 24. The community can cast their vote for the People’s Choice Award and help raise funds for the NEC. (1 vote = $1). We are so thankful to our Coastal Programs Intern, Anneke Fischle, for her help with putting on this event. Anneke came to the NEC last summer, inquiring how she could be involved with our Coastal Programs and brought her passion for marine debris removal and awareness. Anneke collaborated with NEC staff and the idea to bring marine debris awareness to the next level via upcycled art was born. See page 4 for Anneke’s volunteer spotlight. Learn more at www.yournec.org/craft4coast
We are so excited to divulge all the details of the NEC’s 50th Anniversary Summer Celebration on August 21 – and we will soon! For now, just know that this event will be a fun-in-the-sun, activity-filled event that pays tribute to all of the hard work that individuals at the NEC have contributed over the last half-century. It will surely be one that we will all remember for the next 50 years. We will be releasing more information about the event and how you can purchase tickets very soon!
Lastly, we have been getting some incredible feedback about our two new programs; Activate NEC, a Community Action Group, and Thrive, Eco Grief Support Circle. Thank you for getting involved! Want to learn more about these community-centered projects developed by the amazing NEC staff? Check out our website: yournec.org/activate & yournec.org/thrive.