The presentation was held at the West Hants Community Centre in Windsor and it was well attended (although frustratingly devoid of young people - which is pretty typical for local meetings and events I have attended around climate change).
As the title of the presentation (and the name of the group sponsoring it) avows, there has been credible arguments made that unrelenting rise in the earth's temperature could lead to Earth's sixth major extinction, often called the Anthropocene or Holocene extinction.
Gar cited the 2014 Inter-Governmental Panel on Cimate Change report which concludes, "A large fraction of both terrestrial and freshwater species faces increased extinction risk under projected climate change during and beyond the 21st century, especially as climate change interacts with other stressors, such as habitat modification, over-exploitation, pollution, and invasive species (high confidence)."
Despite the immense challenges facing the planet on addressing climate change, David provided some hope. He talked about the scope of the global movement to fight climate change and emphasized how active and well-organized social movements and civil disobedience (even by a some number of people) can lead to fundamental change. He cited the civil rights movement in the U.S. as just one example.
Green Criminology and Green Crimes!
When the forum invited discussion on other solutions that could contribute to fighting climate change, I (as a criminologist) touched on the emergent field of "green criminology," which is concerned with harms against the environment and when such harms should be considered crimes.
One of green criminology's contribution to fighting the climate change crisis is that it lowers the threshold as to when an environmental harm becomes a "green crime. "
For example, the clear-cutting of forests for profit is currently considered an environmental harm. (Clear-cutting serves no purpose other than maximizing the revenues of logging companies). Given the importance of forests in acting as "sinks" to absorb carbon in the earth's atmosphere some believe that clear-cutting should be considered a green crime.
I argued at the meeting that the crisis we are facing at least requires amendments to the Canadian Environmental Protection Act that include the inclusion of new offences ("green crimes"), increased penalties for such offences (to punish and deter), and ensuring greater accountability of corporations responsible for green crimes (which would mean jail time and fines for executives and directors).
I concluded my little speech with the following pledge: If I am elected M.P., one of my priorities would be to examine how the Criminal Code of Canada can be amended to help lower greenhouse gas emissions (such as criminalizing certain environmental harms, such as fracking, clearcutting, oil spills, indiscriminate release of methane gases, etc.). I would also advocate that the natural environment and wildlife be designated as victims under the Criminal Code. In short, as an M.P. I would look seriously at introducing a bill that creates a whole new part of the Criminal Code dedicated to environmental crimes.
In addition to clear-cutting, other new offences would include fracking (and perhaps even the corporate extraction of water for bottling purposes). These offences would be enforced through stiff penalties with the goal of deterring harmful acts and practices.
I would even consider introducing legislation to amend the Criminal Code of Canada to create a new part dealing with crimes against the environment (and to bring the force of criminal laws to the fight against polluters).
The part would establish the environment and non-human species as potential victims of criminal offences.
In short, green criminology can contribute to the protection of the environment by advocating that certain environmental harms should be treated as offences against the Environmental Protection Act and even criminal offences.
Filling this void may be my unique contribution.
This is why you may see me increasingly using #greencrime in some of my social media postings.
More to come on this...