Climate Change and Criminal Negligence – Letter to GT 23.8

B'dale Court Bairnsdale Court House

Criminal negligence has been defined as “the failure to use reasonable care to avoid consequences that threaten or harm the safety of the public and that are the foreseeable outcome of acting in a particular manner…a person who is convicted of criminal negligence is subject to a fine, imprisonment, or both, because of the status of the conduct as a crime.”

Climate Change is life threatening. Scientific predictions of an increase in the number and severity of extreme weather events, including droughts bushfires floods and heatwaves, have been with us since the 1980s. All of these events threaten harm to public safety. In particular recent heatwaves have been responsible for a substantial increase in mortality. For example the number of people killed by the heatwave preceding Black Saturday was twice as many as killed by the following bushfires. All of these fatalities are ‘potential victims’ of ‘climate change’.

Who then is responsible for this and are they criminally negligent?

The responsibility will be seen to lie squarely with the following:-

  1. The politicians – in particular those who opposed efforts to ameliorate the severity of the threat by gaining short term political advantage. An example is the repeal of the “carbon tax” which was designed to reduce carbon emissions.
  2. Some journalists, media commentators and sections of the media who abuse their positions of power to delay or deny attempts at amelioration and use their positions to confuse and misinform.
  3. Companies and organisations financing and promoting a campaign of confusion and denial.
  4. The companies that are producing the carbon dioxide and have done nothing to reduce their contribution. In particular this refers to our brown coal electricity generators in the Latrobe Valley and possibly also others such logging companies.

Eventually, possibly much sooner than we think, science will be able to state with a fair degree of certainty (95%) that ‘x’ number of fatalities, or ‘x’ amount of property loss, from a particular event was caused by climate change. As an example recent studies claim that between 8% and 27% of the current Californian drought has been caused by climate change.

A bun fight of grand proportions beckons in the courts.