The online definition of ‘Crimes against Humanity’ is “a deliberate act, typically as part of a systematic campaign that causes human suffering or death on a large scale”. There can be no doubt that fossil fuel vested interests have known for a long time that catastrophic climate change may result from the continued sales of their product. Exxon (aka Esso) for example has been aware of this for forty years. From the 1990s many of these companies launched a ‘systematic campaign’ to either discredit or confuse the science to enable them to continue selling their products.
Further this campaign – conducted in the mass media and through favourite politicians and commentators – has been highly successful. And there can be no doubt that in the last 20 years extreme weather events (predominantly heatwaves, droughts) have caused ‘human suffering or death on a large scale’. Examples include the Paris heatwave causing 15,000 deaths in 2003, the Russian drought of 2010 leading to the Arab Spring and the Syrian drought leading to the civil war and a massive exodus of refugees. In Australia the heatwave preceding the Black Saturday bushfires caused an extra 370 fatalities – not something you read about in the media.
It follows then that the actions of the fossil fuel companies and their organisations promoting climate change denial – including various politicians and media players – have been (and are) committing crimes against humanity. Due to inertia in the climate system the successful campaigns of the climate change deniers may be the difference between harsh but manageable effects and catastrophic results threatening human existence itself.
In Australia the near print monopoly of News Corp (controlled and directed by climate denier in-chief Rupert Murdoch) and their media organisations have set the agenda for the denial of climate science to be accepted politically and generally in the community. This agenda leads other media organisations such as Fairfax and the ABC to be hesitant in their advocacy of the science. The reluctance of politicians to adopt meaningful measures in Australia is heavily influenced by the Murdoch media. Thus, from the mogul himself down, his acolytes and mercenaries in the Australian, and on Sky News, the obnoxious Andrew Bolt, the sundry radio ‘shock jocks’ and fellow travellers, it follows that they are all ‘climate criminals’.
If I were to attack someone in the street I would be charged with a crime and rightly imprisoned. Yet these purveyors of lies and deniers of climate science continue unhindered despite helping perpetuate ‘crimes against humanity’ which may eventually be much worse than the Nazi holocaust.