The “World Future Council” has recently issued a press release stating “Crimes against Future Generations need to become taboo” (pdf), with a lead sentence that states the following: “How can we prevent and prosecute activites today that severely threaten the living conditions and health of those living in the future?”
Does this sound sinister to you? If you don’t buy into some of the dominant concepts of mainstream environmentalism today, if you appreciate the potential for unintended consequences, and if you are paying attention to the ongoing momentum of mainstream environmentalism, you will find this pronouncement sinister indeed. Here’s more:
“The fundamental rights of future generations need to be recognized in international justice. Investigating the concept of Crimes against Future Generations is a very important initiative to support this,” according to Prof. Marie-Claire Cordonier Segger, a World Future Council “Councillor.”
Like most utopian concepts, this all sounds great except for one glaring, fatal flaw: We can’t predict the future, or the judgement of history. For example, in their press release, WFC notes the problem of rainforest destruction due to oil drilling – ignoring the fact that most rainforest destruction in the past decade or more has been financed by proceeds from European emissions allowance auctions, because “carbon neutral” biofuel plantations were considered until fairly recently to be eligible carbon offset projects. Deforestation on the scale of hundreds of thousands of square miles was enabled by social engineers of WFC’s ilk, their misguided utopian idealism only matched by their political savvy. In this case, the judgement of the future is already here – and the guilty parties are the same people who are proposing we create a new area of international law to prosecute who, themselves? Clearly, in the case of rainforests, futurists didn’t see the future very well at all, nor are they being honest today about what really happened.
Another obvious example of the simplistic arrogance of the WFC’s press release is their distaste for nuclear power, despite the potential of nuclear power to make significant contributions to global energy supply. Nuclear power is cleaner and safer than ever, but to read this press report you would think Chernobyl was yesterday. The irony is fascinating – these people presume to be so certain of the judgement of history some time in the future that they wish to prosecute those of us today whose projects may not fit their world view, yet these futurists have no faith in the potential for technology to ever deliver safe nuclear power! What technologies do they like, and why, and will their assessments be any more accurate than the ones that lead to the incineration of Indonesian rainforests to plant oil palms?
If crimes against the future are going to be prosecuted, perhaps we should prosecute those who in the name of environmentalism, fought, often successfully, to eliminate nuclear power, eliminate coal power, banned DDT and genetically modified crops, and in general restricted resource development of all kinds. Because when the history of the 21st century is written, it may be this version of environmentalism will be to blame for condemning humanity to a dark age of scarcity that was completely, utterly avoidable. So where are the legal briefs for this case? In what international court shall we file this lawsuit against environmentalists for “crimes against the future?”
Environmentalism today has been hijacked by powerful vested interests, including public sector unions, corporate cartels, and the “international community,” whose shared concern is preserving their elite status and squelching competition. They are abetted by irresponsible journalists who have not taken it upon themselves to verify all of the doomsday predictions coming out of the PR mills such as that of the WFC, nor are willing to consider alternative world views that might embrace entrepreneurial activity and resource development. They are also abetted by ambitious consultants, service professionals and entrepreneurs of all stripes who see in the green mania a good way to grow their businesses – and if they don’t think too hard, they may even consciously think they are saving the planet. But when the judgement of history is upon us, one hundred years hence, maybe it will be those who wanted to reform environmentalism, right-size government, and roll back the power of big labor who will be seen to have fought the good fight. Green is a complex color – it reflects a great deal of genuine beauty and promise, but shades of darkness as well.
Prosecuting “crimes against the future” is a snake pit, writhing with opportunists and their useful zealots, and nothing more. It is dangerous, it discredits the genuine values and challenges of environmentalism that should be addressed, and threatens our freedom.
Edward Ring is a contributing editor and senior fellow with the California Policy Center, which he co-founded in 2013 and served as its first president. He is also a senior fellow with the Center for American Greatness, and a regular contributor to the California Globe. His work has appeared in the Los Angeles Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Economist, Forbes, and other media outlets.
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