Tagged with John Locke

Planet Earth is a sentient being – part 3

Jus ad bellum – Right to War.

Part 1 can be found here.
Part 2 can be found here.
Part 4 can be found here.

Click here to listen to Planet Earth is a sentient being – part 3

I argue then, that just because the Biosphere has a non-identity in the minds of some people, leaders and industry it is still morally wrong to carry on global destruction with insane practices and it does not mean to say that Earth isn’t sentient!

With the following thought experiment I will try and argue that if the Biosphere is being attacked as a Member State of the UN (the 626 mission), in what I see is basically World War 3 only its weapons of mass destruction are driven by corporatism… then those who would be its guardistee  (a trustee to guard the well-being of Earth ~ portmanteau word created by Candace James from ‘guardian’ and ‘trustee) could then use  Jus ad bellum, (Just Cause) to wage economic war on the those who are the aggressors.

Environmentalists don’t want violent physical war as it destroys the Biosphere as well as people, but as the Just War Theory created international laws and conventions the heavy quantum of economic warfare is the only way to create new governance that benefits all.

Economic warfare would include:

  • Freezing capital assets

  • Prohibition of investments and other capital flows

  • Expropriation

  • Embargoes

  • Blacklisting companies to withhold trading

Hypothetically then, Earth is now a Member State of the UN and those chosen to be its guartistees have to show just cause for economic warfare. In short, aggression and human rights violations are the crux of the matter.

Aggression involves physical force in violations of a communities rights to:

  • Survive

  • Be secure

  • Have enough resources to survive

  • Live in peace

  • To have choice

Some governments are complicit with industries that aggressively carry out harms to communities and the Biosphere. Imagine a company that illegally destroys virgin rainforests without the consent of its indigenous population who die because their ecosystem is taken from them or an agricultural chemical company creating genetically modified organisms that are killing the beleaguered Bee populations around the world and causing CCD, (in reality this only happens in countries that hasn’t banned GMO e.g. USA where in 2011 CCD was rife but it wasn’t happening in the UK which banned GMO).  If these GMO companies believe their actions are imperceptible and won’t make global impact then I claim they are morally wrong. If CCD has only been happening since GMO was introduced into nature, its virus-like qualities could be infecting ‘Beedom’. Bees are disappearing from the Biosphere and GMO/CCD could be viewed as a weapon of mass destruction.

If this is actually happening today, morally does this constitute as aggressive behaviour? If the answer was ‘yes’ then Just Cause says that the perpetrators would forfeit their rights and it would be legitimate to declare economic war on them.

Seventeenth-century English Philosopher John Locke said about using natural resources ‘enough and as good left in common for others’. Locke was talking about sustainability over 400 years ago but mankind’s wanton lusts for more resources are now in my opinion a terrorist attack on the Biosphere. John Rawls also argues in A Theory of Justice that more resources should be devoted to the ‘worst off’ and justice requires that happens. Given this argument ‘worst off’ could then be applied to the impacts made by humans on the Biosphere.

In self-defence and for justice, by using Just Cause we have to ask could we declare economic war for the right reasons? Those reasons could include:

  • Self-defence from external attack e.g. Fracking[1] which is believed to cause seismic activities.

  • Defence of innocents from external attack e.g. disappearing Islands caused by climate change.

  • The protection of innocents from brutal aggressors e.g. Coltan mining in the Democratic Republic of the Congo[2].

  • Resisting aggression which violates human basic rights e.g. stopping governments who flood vast regions to build dams with limited shelf lives.

The above bullet list brings to mind many atrocities against the Biosphere and some citizens of usually poor and poorly governed countries to whom it is happening right now. However, without new international laws to protect the environment, acts of aggression go unpunished.


In June 2012 a new law is being proposed by Earth Lawyer Polly Higgins at the Earth Summit in Brazil called The Law of Ecocide[3]. This new law was also  proposed to the UN in April 2010 as the 5th Crime of Peace. This will mean for those who are involved in environmental damage that they will have to change how the doctrine of double effect (DDE) is interpreted. Knowingly causing harm will no longer be morally or legally justified even if the harm wasn’t intended.

Aggressive acts on the Biosphere

Utilitarian President George W. Bush said when discussing the Kyoto Protocol:

”We will not do anything that harms our economy, because first things first are the people who live in America,”  (reported by Edmund Andrews, 2001)

Speeches like this will be seen as the commission of an aggressive act on people outside the USA, even though the effects will eventually be felt by the USA itself. Biosphere destruction is the reverse of the DDE principle as harm to the Biosphere outweighs the luxury many people want.

Further support for the above claim is from another President whose country is ‘feeling’ those harms from Biosphere degradation is President Yoweri Museveni of Uganda. He said at the African Union Summit in Ethiopia 2007 (Andrew Revkin, 2007)

“We have a message here to tell these countries, that you are causing aggression to us by causing global warming. Alaska will probably become good for agriculture, Siberia will probably become good for agriculture, but where does that leave Africa?” 

Just cause could be implemented now if the Biosphere was represented and Earth given UN membership then President Museveni could call on the UN community to stop acts of aggression by other countries. Economic warfare to stop attacks on it could go ahead and have the legal weight to impose humanitarian intervention from the sympathetic international community as well as protecting the environment.

Slavoj Zizek suggested in his Athens 2007 lectures[4] (Slavoj Zizek, 2007) that nature should be taken out of ecology. He said:

“Nature is our very background, we are wired to nature, embedded in nature.”

Zizek is barking up the right tree as it were, but the reason he is right in my opinion is that nature should not be seen as a charity case or a disaster waiting to happen that is far too big for our tiny human brains to fathom. The Biosphere is a whole standalone entity in its own right. If corporations can be given non-personhood status then isn’t it plausible that the Earth in its entirety should also have legal standing as a non-human entity?

In my view it is rational to think it plausible and if humans change their ethical views and lose their anthropocentrism then we can start to protect the Biosphere thus protecting the human species.

Part 4 is the last part of this essay and will explore A change in Ethics.

[1] Fracking is the hydraulic method for extracting oil and natural gas. Article retrieved 05/01/12 (http://bit.ly/yv0buk). See also the film Gasland by Josh Fox (http://www.gaslandthemovie.com/whats-fracking) Retrieved 05/01/12.

[2] SECURITY COUNCIL CONDEMNS ILLEGAL EXPLOITATION OF DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO’S NATURAL RESOURCES Document retrieved 05/01/12 (http://www.un.org/News/Press/docs/2001/sc7057.doc.htm )

[3] Retrieved 04/01/12 Eradicating Ecocide http://www.thisisecocide.com/

[4] See video of Zizek’s lecutres Accessed 28/12/11 (http://www.egs.edu/faculty/slavoj-zizek/videos/ecology-without-nature/ )

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