Ecocide eradication as both a concept and an institution of (enforceable) international (and local) application is creating a popular stir of concern for its critics and enthusiasm for its supporters, respectively, this is going to get more serious as the ascendance of both its acceptance and the resistance to it unfold. Acceptance often takes time and resistance wears out with time, so time will decide the fate of ecocide law as a legitimate institution.

The one main innovation of the book is the complete replacement of the concept of mitigation (market-driven sustainability) with concept of eradication (legally-protected responsibility) as an approach to saving the planet from lapsing into a moribund state. The mitigation approach to tackling ecocide is presented as effete since it fosters a deeply entrenched accommodation of the enslavement and exploitation of the planet by corporations, simply to serve the logic of pecuniary justice and the imposed fetishes of the global market. Profit in itself is not condemned but irresponsible profit is; responsible profit preserves the natural state of the planet while irresponsible profit kills the “living” planet. The author contends that it is the “irresponsible” quest for profit that is “killing” the planet and sustainability approaches are good for “irresponsible” profit, hence creates a paradox. Only eradication approaches to preserving the planet by way of creatively introducing strong, binding and enforceable international laws that adequately criminalises ecocide using existing legal infrastructures suffices to solve the problem. The other main innovation of the book is the formulation of ecocide as the 5th Crime Against Peace alongside genocide and others. The book is not short on innovation or rethinking.

As an economist, my main interests in the book are the economic possibilities and implications. Eradicating ecocide would require major industries (particularly oil and mining) to seize to function or even exist or alternatively find radically innovative ways of operating. The author takes the leap dealing with the problem ecocide upstream rather than downstream. Such a requirement is an ostensible affront to the very foundations of (mainstream and other) economics e.g. the creation of wealth from natural resources; increasing utility (consumer satisfaction and producer profit); the efficient allocation of scarce resources; the quest for ever-positive economic growth; the paramountcy of the resource-transforming firm in an economy; and the freedom of choice of agents to consume and produce as they will. It is inevitable that economists and corporate executives would defiantly resist or dismiss the provisions ecocide law as impractical or even absurd. Politicians and government officials would choose to do the same not only because of their alliance with corporations but also the resulting massive contraction in their tax base. However, there are a significant number of economists and growing who contend that the present approaches to economics and the economy are “pre-moribund”. An economics that has become autoimmune to the existence of the systems it supports needs serious rethinking anyway, a widely acknowledge necessity within the profession. Ecocide can play a significant role in such a rethink; the author reminds us of the Jevons Paradox as she articulates the overly dependence of the global economy on a finite fuel. The author also advocates and economics of abundance rather than an economics of scarcity. The book takes the radical step of suggesting the upstream-oriented formulation of (economic) governance of natural resources since economic policy is mainly formulated from the stuff of the downstream manifestations of activities i.e. consumption and redistribution with production rendered almost implicit. The economics of ecocide might well be a serious and prominent research project in future.

The author deftly abhors naïveté about the strategies and tactics which corporate executives, politicians and government officials use to undermine or subvert existing laws, regulations and institutions established to protect the environment in simply order to facilitate “irresponsible” profit and endeavours to provides a strong  framework to eliminate such violations effectively. The author also provides significant evidence of the cost and evils of ecocide perpetrated against both the planet and people. Essentially, the author advocates and provides a no-nonsense framework for the reconfiguration of international and local law so that it works as prescribed; the perpetrators of ecocide would be prosecuted adequately according to their crimes; the punishment will be exacted on culprits not “fictitious persons” called corporations.  From an institutional perspective, ecocide eradication law and regulation has the overwhelming potential of acquiring the status of strong legitimacy and popular expectation amongst everyday people and perhaps they will unrelentingly demand it or even fight for it. Who would want to oppose the establishment of such an institution other than interest groups that have a lot gain from perpetrating ecocide?

Eradicating Ecocide is an interesting and informative read and is unique in that it is quite far “outside the box” i.e. distant enough to (1) provide the much needed change to the appropriation and expropriation of the planet that is only possible by exploring and re-configuring well-protected [forbidden territories]. And (2) close enough to be practical, workable and answer a very real and important need within a new perhaps transforming paradigm. All in all, the stuff of ecocide perplexes because of its sheer simplicity, insight and audacity. Whether the book provides a self-contained solution to the problem it seeks to redress or will necessitate further works that culminate in a monumental solution to the same is something I would keenly like to see.

Grimot Nane

Comments
  1. Pat says:

    Criminalising ecocide cannot stop it happening. I am a lawyer too and I know that making an activity criminal does not deter people from engaging it if it is in their best rational or irrational interest. Crimes against peace, humanity and the planet can never be stopped ever but can be limited if those who lead the free world support it uniformly and equitably. The United Nations is according to Fela Disunited Nations and so it is. United Nations can limit ecocide selectively in the advanced and pet countries but not in poor ones. Let us give ecocide prohibition and the workings of the United Nations a chance and assess the impact later.

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  2. John Okoro says:

    I have just ordered the book but I have a fairly good idea of what the content would be. If ecocide can be stopped for real I wonder what the world would look like. Terence Mckenna did predict the world as we know it would dissappear in 2012 and suggested that time travel would be available in that year. I think introducing laws against ecocide would necissitate time travel so people can move back and forth in time to acquire resources and produce goods.

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  3. Jim Bolz says:

    I would love to see the laws of eradicating ecocide implemented very quickly and relentlessly in the Niger Delta. We need it like last year. God bless Polly Higgins, it is about time someone like her came along with such a great vision.

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  4. Ed Mancur says:

    If ecocide is successfully eradicated it stands to reason that the economy as we know it would be finished. What would replace it? Like many virtuous ideas ecocide does not offer a realistic alternative to the status quo.

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