June 23, 2008

Climate Change Blasphemy Must Be Prosecuted Says NASA Scientist

It always amazes me to see how people view the legal system. Dr. James Hansen, vaguely referred to by The Guardian as one of the world's leading climate scientists (presumably due to the fact that he becomes hysterical more swiftly than the others), now thinks we should prosecute oil company executives for, "high crimes against humanity and nature, accusing them of actively spreading doubt about global warming."

Last time I checked, expressing doubt as to any theory, and then trying to disprove that theory, was part of the scientific method--not a violation of the criminal code. But never mind that, we have important criminal accusations to consider.

So, what are crimes against humanity and nature anyway? Article 7 § 1 of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court defines crimes against humanity as:
any of the following acts when committed as part of a widespread or systematic attack directed against any civilian population, with knowledge of the attack:

(a) Murder;

(b) Extermination;

(c) Enslavement;

(d) Deportation or forcible transfer of population;

(e) Imprisonment or other severe deprivation of physical liberty in violation of fundamental rules of international law;

(f) Torture;

(g) Rape, sexual slavery, enforced prostitution, forced pregnancy, enforced sterilization, or any other form of sexual violence of comparable gravity;

(h) Persecution against any identifiable group or collectivity on political, racial, national, ethnic, cultural, religious, gender as defined in paragraph 3, or other grounds that are universally recognized as impermissible under international law, in connection with any act referred to in this paragraph or any crime within the jurisdiction of the Court;

(i) Enforced disappearance of persons;

(j) The crime of apartheid;

(k) Other inhumane acts of a similar character intentionally causing great suffering, or serious injury to body or to mental or physical health.
Strangely, it says nothing about climate at all. Even if it did, Global Warming might be widespread, but could hardly be called a systematic attack upon any civilian population by oil company executives from the lawful operation of their businesses.

That leaves crimes against nature. Crimes against nature are not international crimes at all. They are generally part of state law. They forbid things like masturbation, oral sex, and sodomy. After the Supreme Court’s opinion in Lawrence v. Texas, 539 U.S. 558 (2003), most of the so called crimes against nature are unconstitutional as they violate our fundamental right to privacy. Of course, bestiality and necrophilia are both still forbidden, but Global Warming just does not seem to fit into this category does it? Then again, perhaps it does.

It seems the oil companies have violated neither international nor domestic law with their pernicious doubts about Global Warming. Of course, this is not the real problem here. The particular criminal charge does not matter so long as we can find one that will work to silence these doubters once and for all.

Generally speaking, true scientists want a lot of doubt expressed about their theories. They want the whole scientific community to have a go at them, and, if they still stand up, undamaged, at the end of the day the whole world is likely to embrace them. Such is not the case with Global Warming, though. Almost any rational person can manage to find considerable holes in the Global Warming theories. A scientist would say this means it requires more research and study.

Dr. Hansen and his ilk, however, remind us that this is about more than just science or law: it is about moral goodness. More research and more study takes time. Persuading lawmakers to act takes even longer. But we know what is evil now. Global Warming is evil. Those who doubt it are evil. There are many of them out there—doubting—and they are getting away with it!

There was once a time when our legal system would have accommodated such thinking. Indeed, both Church and State tried for a long while to prosecute irritating “doubters” for insufficient belief. Back then, though, we did not use those words. Instead, we used words like Inquisition, heretics, and blasphemy. The system had a splendid effect upon morality, but apparently science lagged a bit. We called that time the Dark Ages. Ironically, today, any government that tried to manage belief in such a way would be prosecuted for crimes against humanity. See supra, Article 7 § 1(h).

Julian Dunraven, J.D., M.P.A.

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