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Don't Stay Silent About Our Climate Change Crime

By Bill Henderson

06 February, 2012

"People who stand to get rich from tarsands development will delude themselves and try to delude others that the climate science is faulty or uncertain. As Upton Sinclair wrote, 'it is hard to get a man to understand something when his income depends on his not understanding it.' And those who stand to gain from the tar-sands indirectly (like politicians) will distract people from the obvious connection between tarsands expansion and climate catastrophe. "  Mark Jaccard

" In today's world, all fossil fuels are unethical. " David Suzuki

The Holocaust is our most terrible example of a horrendous crime  enacted upon innocent people by an entire nation. Yes, only a very few Germans - the Nazis, SS, concentration camp personal - actually murdered Jews from all over Europe, but they acted in the name of Germany, acted criminally within a national story of German self-interest. Not every German knew or approved of the Holocaust, but they could have and should have known what was being done to innocent people in their name. Those that stayed within the Nazi story of a supreme Aryan nation and didn't connect the dots, who didn't know or didn't want to know, still must share the guilt of this almost impossible to fathom tragedy.

An estimated six million Jews died in the Holocaust. Impossible to comprehend. Tears, rage, sadness, guilt and, of course, denial.

Presently our use of fossil fuels is leading to a temperature rise of at least 4C (from a pre-industrial global mean that has been relatively stable for around 10, 000 years, the Holocene). This unprecedented rapid warming so threatens species and ecosystems, agriculture and industry, Third World countries and rich Western post-nation state economies that only one person in ten is predicted to survive. Seven to ten billion people are at risk of premature death in this hell on Earth we are creating with the unintended side effects of our present use of an extremely beneficial source of energy.

An unfair comparison of a truly criminal gas chamber extermination of a historically oppressed minority with an unintended and certainly not criminally motivated consequence of regular economic activity? (And if you are still in denial, if you still stay within the story, people aren't causing global warming, it isn't happening, and no one can tell the future let alone predict the death of billions of people.)

Think of your children or maybe your grandchildren - envision a toddler today. If we don't stop our criminal action against future generations we are predicted to enter that 4C hell on Earth world by mid-century when they will be in middle age with their own innocent families.

There is more than enough evidence to support at least a prosecution of a crime against humanity. There is a strong case to be made that those that benefit from fossil fuel use today are as guilty as those Germans were of their Holocaust crime. The crime: acting against the best scientific consensus with the direct consequence being the probable extermination of billions of people.

Those of us who understand what is happening cannot remain silent. We must awaken our fellow Germans to this unimaginable crime we are committing. We must awaken from denial, from fear of 'the Nazis' and confront what we are doing and change course to radically reduce greenhouse gas emissions as fast as possible.

Do you think my analogy is too inflammatory and too impractical? After all we mean no harm and there is no evidence of a crime or innocent victims?

But there is evidence of a crime and victims: already climate change has resulted in the annual loss of about 160,000 lives and the loss of 5.5 million years of healthy life, according to estimates by the World Health Organization. The toll is expected to double to about 300,000 lives and 11 million years of healthy life by 2020 and we haven't increased global mean temperature by even one degree yet. The innocent victims are mostly out of sight, out of mind in the Third World.

There is an overwhelming body of strong scientific evidence detailing cause and effect and the suite of climate change dangers to be expected: extreme weather, species extinction, acidification of the oceans, rising sea levels, etc. Denial of the horrendous consequences of our fossil fuel use is now untenable. We are Germans killing innocents today and seriously threatening future generations.

You still don't want to recognize that there is a holocaust happening, a holocaust caused by fossil fuel use, a holocaust where you are the good German who doesn't want to know and who stays silent?

Put the leaders of our petro states and all those involved in the production and use of fossil fuels on trial, today. Accuse and bring charges so that it's out in the open.

Keeping greenhouse gas emissions from fossil fuels below a precautionary ceiling in the atmosphere in order to stay well away from dangerous climate change has been an elusive goal of climate change mitigation globally for more than two decades but petro states like my home Canada continue to try and increase fossil fuel production. Such states openly sabotage emission reduction regulation while ignoring the consequences for future generations from increasing production. Why isn't this criminal behaviour demanding justice? 

Put them on trial - a full and free accounting of what must be at least already considered as possibly the gravest crime against humanity (and every other species with which we presently share creation on this small blue planet).

In my Canadian context indict Prime Minister Harper and his Conservatives, the provincial premiers and their parties that still support a petro state, the fossil fuel company executives and their financial supporters that most benefit from the continuing use of fossil fuels, put them all on trial today for crimes against humanity .

And accept the knowledge and guilt as Canadians for the damage we have already done and are doing. Renounce this crime with disgust and shame and make the changes necessary to keep fossil fuels in the ground until we can use them without danger and reduce emissions to zero as fast as possible and nothing less.

Bill Henderson is a frequent contributor to Countercurrents.org. He can be reached at
bill  (at) pacificfringe.net




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