Sunday, March 26, 2023

Climate Homicide: Prosecuting Big Oil For Climate Deaths
Harvard Environmental Law Review, Vol. 48, No. 1, 2024

This could be brilliant. A complete defence would be to show there is NO dangerous climate change. And a court of law would have to consider the evidence on that. And the evidence tracing deaths to climate change is non-existent. It's all just theory. So a ruling on this could put the whole climate change myth to bed. Bring it on!


Prosecutors regularly bring homicide charges against individuals and corporations whose reckless or negligent acts or omissions cause unintentional deaths, as well as those whose misdemeanors or felonies cause unintentional deaths. Fossil fuel companies learned decades ago that what they produced, marketed, and sold would generate “globally catastrophic” climate change. Rather than alert the public and curtail their operations, they worked to deceive the public about these harms and to prevent regulation of their lethal conduct. They funded efforts to call sound science into doubt and to confuse their shareholders, consumers, and regulators. And they poured money into political campaigns to elect or install judges, legislators, and executive officials hostile to any litigation, regulation, or competition that might limit their profits.

Today, the climate change that they forecast has already killed thousands of people in the United States, and it is expected to become increasingly lethal for the foreseeable future. Given the extreme lethality of the conduct and the awareness of the catastrophic risk on the part of fossil fuel companies, should they be charged with homicide? Could they be convicted? In answering these questions, this Article makes several contributions to our understanding of criminal law and the role it could play in combating crimes committed at a massive scale. It describes the doctrinal and social predicates of homicide prosecutions where corporate conduct endangers much or all of the public. It also identifies important advantages of homicide prosecutions relative to civil and regulatory remedies, and it details how and why prosecution for homicide may be the most effective legal remedy available in cases like this. Finally, it argues that, if our criminal legal system cannot focus more intently on climate crimes—and soon—we may leave future generations with significantly less for the law to protect.


‘Climate Change’ Now Top Priority for US Navy

With both China and Russia restive, this is a huge failure. Both Russia and China have substantial navies and they now seem to be in alliance

In a stunning, but not altogether surprising statement, America’s top Navy official declared that “fighting climate change” is a “top priority” for the U.S. Navy. Navy Secretary Carlos Del Toro announced this last week not at the Pentagon or the U.S. Naval Academy, but at a conference in the Bahamas.

It is likely that Chinese President Xi Jinping and Russian President Vladimir Putin, meeting this week in Moscow to discuss closer military cooperation, shared a high five on hearing the Navy Secretary’s declaration.

Del Toro’s admission that strengthening America’s dwindling fleet of naval ships is no higher a priority than is “embracing climate-focused technologies” was not totally unexpected.

Since taking office two years ago, President Biden repeatedly has stated that “fighting climate change” is and will remain his top national security priority. This was made crystal clear in an October 2021 presidential “Fact Sheet” directed to our nation’s military, foreign policy, and national intelligence leaders.

Rather than resist such a priority directive, the Navy Secretary joined other top Defense officials and saluted their Commander-in-Chief’s warped policy decision; one that will further weaken our country’s defenses. Making matters worse, Biden’s latest defense budget submission to the Congress proposes a 40 percent increase in “climate spending” and a net decrease in the number of operational ships in our Navy’s fleet, continuing a troubling trend highlighted in the Administration’s FY 2023 budget proposal.

Such cuts reflect what one military expert refers to as “seablindness” — a short-sighted policy accounting for America’s shrinking dominance of the world’s oceans, a strength on which we and the entire Free World have relied since World War II.

In an insightful analysis just published in The Atlantic (“The Age of American Naval Dominance Is Over”), former Navy officer Jerry Hendrix chronicles the many shortcomings in our country’s civilian and naval shipbuilding capabilities, even as Russia and China aggressively continue to expand theirs.

In one striking example, Hendrix notes that Russia maintains a robust fleet of Arctic ships and has been moving in the direction of unilaterally declaring parts of the Arctic Ocean within its territorial waters, while the U.S. “has not built an Arctic-rated surface warship since the 1950s.”

Also questionable is our capability to quickly or timely build needed ships, considering the small number of U.S. shipyards capable of constructing such massive and complex vessels (as Hendrix notes, there remain only one dozen such “graving docks” certified to build or work on Navy ships).

Elsewhere, China has embarked on a massive, multi-year expansion of its Navy and is asserting claims to large swaths of the East and South China Seas.

Currently, neither of our two adversaries’ navies come near to matching our overall naval capabilities, especially when it comes to our premier warship the aircraft carrier. But our failure to expand, much less retain, a commitment to domestic maritime and naval shipbuilding, has created a long-term weakness in being able to protect oceanic trade routes on which we and almost all other nations increasingly rely.

Budget cuts by the current and prior administrations of both political parties, especially the Clinton administration, purposefully reduced the number of defense contractors able to build modern naval vessels, and policies have favored development and modernization of air power over naval power. The resulting slippage in the number of operational naval vessels in our fleet, now down to 293, imperils our ability to project power in the decades ahead and also to maintain the freedom of the oceans for commercial purposes.

One facet of naval power in which the United States maintains a clear advantage over every other maritime power is in the number of foreign bases and port facilities available to our ships; but even here, China is moving to close that gap. While China has a long way to go in this regard, it is aggressively expanding its reach on the west coast of Africa, and continues to use its “civilian” shipping company, Cosco, to build and operate container port facilities in areas long allied with the United States, including Israel, western Europe, and South and Central America.

If the United States continues the folly of focusing on “climate change” rather than taking concrete short and long-term steps to counter Chinese and Russian moves to assert sea power interests adverse to ours, we and the entire Free World will pay a heavy price in the decades ahead.


The Dutch attacks on nitrogen emissions

Visitors to dairy farms are always well advised to watch their step. Those inspecting the three dozen milking cows kept by Minke van Wingerden and her team have more to fear than landing in manure: the entire farm is set up on a floating platform, docked a 20­minute cycle ride away from Rotterdam’s central railway station. One wrong step and you will wind up spluttering in the Nieuwe Maas river—as a couple of the cows have discovered (firemen fished them out of the harbour). Forget vistas of the placid Frisian countryside: these animals spend their days overlooking tankers and trucks unloading wares at Europe’s biggest port. Throughout the day schijt­scooping robots scour the milking area, keeping it clean. On two lower floors of the barge, the cows’ output is variously turned either into cheese or fertiliser.

Ms Van Wingerden’s Floating Farm is the apotheosis of centuries of Dutch thinking about how to grow lots of food in a crowded corner of northern Europe. Since the age of Rembrandt and Vermeer, land has been reclaimed from the sea and windmills erected to drain the plains. Town­size greenhouses are built to grow tulips or vegetables. A food shortage during the second world war convinced the Dutch they needed to grow as much as their fields could manage. Calvinist industriousness turned the Netherlands into an unlikely agrarian powerhouse: with more than €100bn ($108bn) of annual farming sales overseas, it is the world’s biggest exporter of agricultural products after America, a country more than 250 times its size. Some of that is re­exported imported food.

But the Dutch make twice as much cheese per head as France.

Two questions have long dogged Dutch farming. The first is whether quantity made up for quality: having tasted the tomatoes, cucumbers and chilies grown in its hyper­efficient greenhouses, one may be forgiven for not being able to tell them apart. The second is whether its approach made any sense. The Netherlands is the most densely inhabited country in the EU bar tiny Malta; officials joke it is a city­state in the making. Efficient as its farmers may be, the sector is a footnote to the modern Dutch economy, employing just 2.5% of workers. Countries usually pick between having lots of farms or lots of people. The Dutch approach was to have their Gouda and eat it. That has landed both farmers and politicians in a heap of natural fertiliser.

Limits to the Dutch model of turbo­farming have been suspected for decades. Already in the 1980s, authorities realised that importing lots more animal feed would result in lots more animal excrement. Yet the limits of the land kept being tested: each acre of Dutch farm supports four times as many animals, by weight, as others in Europe. The result of all those digestive tracts has been a surfeit of excreted nitrogen, a key nutrient for plants but one that in excessive quantities can destabilise ecosystems. Cars and industry emit nitrogen compounds too. All this has contributed to damaging the soil and polluting waterways. Flora that thrive on excess nitrogen have been killing off plants that would otherwise manage to compete for resources. That in turn has knock­on effects, not all of which scientists understand.

Ernst van den Ende of Wageningen University, a food­research hub, says there is not much wrong with individual Dutch farms, which are often models of sustainability. The problem is that there are too many of them, pumping out too much nitrogen. For more than a decade there have been efforts (mostly ineffectual) to cut back such emissions to meet EU rules that protect nature reserves. But in 2019 things came to a head. A decree from the highest Dutch court gave wishy­washy laws unexpected bite. Every activity that led to nitrogen being produced—including the construction of buildings, roads and other infrastructure—would henceforth require cuts in nitrogen elsewhere. The country has a housing shortage, but new building has been throttled by the rule. Daytime speed limits on motorways were cut from 130kph to 100kph in the hope that lower emissions might let other bits of the economy keep going. Schiphol airport, one of the world’s busiest, resorted to buying farms to shut them down so planes could take off.

The crisis has been all­encompassing. A bastion of free­market liberalism in Europe has morphed into something akin to a planned economy, with a “Minister for Nature and Nitrogen Policy” as lead commissar. In the end, it became clear a piecemeal approach would not cut it. Last year a sweeping plan to halve nitrogen emissions by 2030 was unveiled. The government said it would pay €24bn to buy out as many as 3,000 big emitters, meaning mostly farms. Livestock numbers would be cut by nearly a third. The era of ever­increasing agricultural exports was over.

Strangely, even in a country bursting at the seams, picking people over cows turns out to be politically fraught. The prospect of buyouts or expropriations fuelled farmer protests across the country. (Think burning hay­bales and nitrogen­rich animal matter dumped on motorways.) Last week the revolt hit the ballot box. A newish party representing farmers triumphed in local elections on March 15th, topping the polls that elect the nationwide senate as well as regional governments. The farmers’ party got 1.5m votes, 19% of the total, in a country that employs just 244,000 people in agriculture. City­dwellers backed it out of a nostalgic attachment to farmers and resentment against nagging authorities. Whether the government can force through its nitrogen cuts is up in the air.

Other countries are heading for nitrogen crises too; neighbouring Belgium, also pretty crowded, already has one. But the wider parallel is with carbon emissions, which Europe plans to cut to “net zero” by 2050. That will demand adaptations well beyond what the Dutch have experienced with nitrogen. The Netherlands, a generally well­run place, has made a hash of adapting its economy to ecological constraints it knew about for decades. That does not bode well for everyone else.


Woke Dem-Led Colorado City Bans New Gas Stations to Fight 'Climate Change'

A Democrat-run city in Colorado is taking it into its own hands to try and fight so-called "climate change" by banning all new gas stations in the area.

City councilors in Louisville passed an ordinance limiting the number of gas stations allowed to operate within the city to just six.

Legislators claimed they felt the decision was necessary to combat "global warming."

"We have an obligation to take every step possible to address the changes to our climate that are ravaging our planet and directly impacting the health, well-being, and livelihoods of the constituents we represent in Louisville,' council member Maxine Most told Fox News.

In the unanimous vote, the ordinance also mandates gas stations to be at least 1,000 feet apart from one another while requiring each one to install "electric vehicle (EV) fast charging stations for any expanded, modified or new gasoline or automobile service station equaling 20% of the number of gasoline pumps at the stations, with no fewer than two such charging stations."

Although Most admitted the proposal wouldn't end "climate change," she still advocates for the small town to continue with the plan anyways, saying she does not want to create additional fossil fuel infrastructure.

According to the ordinance, "gasoline station bans may also be seen as promoting the use of Electric Vehicles (EVs), thus, reducing vehicle emissions and encouraging low-carbon and cleaner energy options for transportation."

The town, which has about 20,000 residents, laid out goals such as meeting the city's municipal electricity needs with carbon-free sources, generating 75 percent of the town's residential, commercial, and industrial electric needs with carbon-free sources by 2030, and reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

Earlier this month, the Louisville Sustainability Advisory Board recommended the city limit the number of gas stations to five, pushing people to switch from fuel-powered cars to electric vehicles.

Colorado is not the only blue state to push such measures. California Democrats banned the sale of new gas-powered cars beginning in 2035 also to get people to hop on the electric vehicle train.




1 comment:

Anonymous said...

"Big Oil" produced the oil but WHO BURNED IT?

It could have been made in to plastic or any of a thousand other items.

If you're going to charge Big Oil for providing oil you're ALSO going to have to charge everyone who burned some of it in order to establish the SHARED BLAME but then shoe me the Prosecutor who will charge themself.