By Nicholas Kusnetz, Inside Climate News, Katie Surma, Inside Climate News and Yuliya Talmazan
This article was published in partnership with Inside Climate News. It is part of “The Fifth Crime,” a series on ecocide.
In 1948, after Nazi Germany exterminated millions of Jews and other minorities during World War II. The United Nations adopted a convention establishing a new crime so heinous it demanded collective action.
Genocide, the nations declared, was “condemned by the civilized world” and justified intervention in the affairs of sovereign states.
Now, a small but growing number of world leaders including Pope Francis and French President Emmanuel Macron have begun citing an offense. They say poses a similar threat to humanity and remains beyond the reach of international criminal law: ecocide, or widespread destruction of the environment.
The pope describes ecocide as “the massive contamination of air, land and water,” or “any action capable of producing an ecological disaster,” and has proposed making it a sin for Roman Catholics.
The Pontiff has also endorsed a campaign by environmental activists and legal scholars to make ecocide the fifth crime. Before the International Criminal Court in The Hague as a legal deterrent to the kinds of far-reaching
To make their case, advocates point to the Amazon, where fires raged out of control in 2019, and where the rainforest may now be so degraded it is spewing more climate-warming gases than it draws in. At the poles, human activity is thawing a frozen Arctic and destabilizing the ice sheets of Greenland and Antarctica
Across the globe, climate change is disrupting the reliable seasonal rhythms that have sustained human life for millennia, while hurricanes, floods and other climate-driven disasters have forced more than 10 million people from their homes in[…]
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