Thinking about the mass damage and long-term destruction of the planet occurring as a whole can be overwhelming. But you can make a difference! An international movement is working on getting this widespread and long-term damage of the earth—which is called Ecocide, criminalized, and they need your help to make this a reality.
Inside this post, I will talk about Ecocide and its meaning, the movement to make Ecocide an international law, and finally, what you can do to stop it.
Ecocide: What it means and what you can do about it
It’s no secret that mass damage and long-term destruction of ecosystems on the planet have been taking place repeatedly over decades. From ocean damage to deforestation, land and water contamination, and air pollution—you name it, it’s happening.
And this widespread and long-term environmental damage affects not only climate change and the planet’s well-being but also the well-being of everything from plants to animals and our well-being as human beings. It affects us all, whether we admit it or not.
The Tar Sands of Alberta
As a Canadian, I was shocked and heartbroken to learn about the exploitation of the Alberta Tar Sands occurring in our backyard. Essentially, in order to remove bitumen—a viscous oil—from the sands, chemicals are used to liberate the oil for it to be usable as a fuel source.
What’s problematic about this extraction process is that most of the leftover water and chemicals can’t be recycled. In fact, a thick liquid waste that is toxic to the environment, flora and fauna, and humans remains and is held in open human-made ponds which covered a surface area of more than 170 square kilometres a decade ago.
Now, this waste doesn’t just stay put in these open ponds; the pollutants are known to migrate through groundwater into surrounding soil and surface water. In 2011, studies showed that 4 billion litres of contaminated water was leaking into the environment per year and that within a decade, it could reach 25 billion litres.
Not only is the surrounding area essential for a number of endangered species who depend on clean water for their survival, but also it’s a water source for many First Nations communities who are increasingly reporting more and more instances of disease, including rare cancers believed to be caused by the toxic waste that is leaking into the waterways.
Unfortunately, the exploitation of tar sands in Alberta continues to expand and is actively encouraged in Canada. And this is just one instance of the widespread and long-term damage that’s occurring on the earth currently as a result of ecocide.
Creating Change as an Individual
I’m going to be honest here—thinking about the amount of destruction occurring on the earth is utterly overwhelming. As a person, it can make you feel so small, and you may even find yourself wondering what you could possibly do to create change.
Is it possible for one person to make a difference when the pathway to turning things around collectively seems like an impossible climb?
I’m here to tell you, yes! You can take action and create change on the planet. And that’s because change always begins on the individual level and then ripples outwards.
Change begins on the internal level when we make the conscious decision that something needs to change because that thing is no longer in alignment with our values. From there, we identify what needs to be changed as a whole, we break it down into small actionable steps, and then we begin taking action. And before we know it, the steps we take create an energetic pathway that paves the way for others to be able to follow in our footsteps.
Ecocide: The Movement to Make Ecocide an International Law
Case in point—the current movement to make Ecocide an international law is backed by thousands of people today. But did you know that this movement all started with one woman named Polly Higgins; when she contemplated the idea that we have universal human rights, but what about universal earth rights? And she began planning and taking action from there.
Sadly, Polly passed away a couple of years ago. Fortunately, because of her, there is a movement of international lawyers called Stop Ecocide International (SEI) working on getting Ecocide added to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC).
Ecocide has been defined as “unlawful or wanton acts committed with knowledge that there is a substantial likelihood of severe and either widespread or long-term damage to the environment being caused by those acts.”
Currently, Ecocide is a crime during wartime but not during times of peace. Examples of Ecocide include everything from oil spills to plastic pollution, overfishing, mountaintop removal, fracking, deforestation of tropical rainforests, deep-sea bottom trawling, chemical disasters, the exploitation of the tar sands, and so much more.
Today, no one is held criminally responsible for the severe environmental harm that is occurring. It’s all just a fine for the individuals responsible for the acts or decisions that lead to this damage rather than criminal charges. And they actually budget for these additional fines in exchange for causing long-term damage to the planet. Making Ecocide an international law would change this; it would make these individuals liable to criminal prosecution, and by doing so, it would give the earth universal rights.
To create an international law of Ecocide, it only takes a single country to call for an amendment to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court. And from there, it will take 82 out of the 123 countries that signed and ratified the Rome Statute to agree to include Ecocide as a part of the statute. And if it’s included, Ecocide would become a crime alongside Genocide, War Crimes, Crimes Against Humanity, and Crimes of Aggression.
Sounds good, right? The thing is, they can’t do it alone.
The world needs us, sweet friend. We can no longer afford to watch from the sidelines and hope that someone else will take action for us. We may not be individually responsible for the mass destruction occurring, but it is our planet. The destruction of the planet affects us all, and it’s going to take all of us to turn things around.
Without our support to make Ecocide an international crime, our countries may not take action, and the amendment may never come to pass. The more we come together and make it known that Ecocide should be an international crime, the more movement will occur. Keep reading to learn about what you can do to stop Ecocide.
What you can do to stop Ecocide
Thinking about Ecocide as a whole is overwhelming. But change is never the result of a single step—it’s an accumulation of hundreds and even thousands of conscious actions we take to create the change we desire as individuals and as a collective.
Every step we take adds up and becomes something bigger. After all, it is the individual moments of our lives that make up our lives as a whole. Thankfully, there are small individual steps that you can take today to make a difference:
1. Sign the Stop Ecocide International Petition
Support making Ecocide an international crime by signing the international petition. The petition is used to demonstrate to governments the level of civil support within their own countries and internationally to make Ecocide an international law. Signing the petition is simple; all you need is your first and last name, city of residence, and email address. You can sign the petition here.
2. Write to your Elected Official
The more we come together and call on governments to support making Ecocide an international crime, the more momentum we create. If you’d like a letter template to write to your elected official, there is a suggested text available here that you can use.
Support the work needed to make Ecocide an international crime by making a donation. You can donate here.
4. Tell your friends and family about the movement
It’s possible your friends and family haven’t heard about the movement to make Ecocide an international law. I invite you to talk about it and let them know why it matters to you. You can share the petition link and this blog post with them if you’d like! Let’s create awareness together; after all, it’s always a WE and not a ME.
5. Connect with the Earth
If you are feeling disconnected from nature, I invite you to take some time to reconnect with Mother Earth. Whether that’s a walk, sitting at the bottom of a wise old tree, or watching the waves come in at a lake or the ocean—listen to your heart and see where you are called.
You are not alone
Conscious Living is, of course, becoming conscious of our own thoughts, words, and actions and how that affects our own lives, but it doesn’t stop there. It’s also about how our thoughts, words, and actions affect the world around us.
I know change can be a frightening and uncomfortable thing. In fact, I resist change all the time—it doesn’t matter what it is, for at least a few moments before I can accept it. But the world needs us—all of us—to have the courage to step into the unknown now and begin making different choices today.
If you feel the call to take action, know that you are not alone. I am already there with you, doing my best on what I can to create change for the better on the planet. And many more people are taking steps right now, along with me. So will you join us in advocating for universal earth rights? Will you assist us in making Ecocide an international law?
Thank you for taking action with me today, sweet friend!
Featured Photo Credit: Sara Monk
What steps are you taking to create change for the better of the planet? Let us know in the conversation below!
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