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Copyright (c) 1996 California Western School of Law
California Western International Law Journal

ARTICLE: The International Crime of Ecocide

Spring, 1996

26 Cal. W. Int'l L.J. 215

Author

Mark Allan Gray *

Excerpt



Introduction

And I have felt

A presence that disturbs me with the joy

Of elevated thoughts; a sense sublime

Of something far more deeply interfused,

Whose dwelling is the light of setting suns,

And the round ocean and the living air,

And the blue sky, and in the mind of man

. . . Therefore am I still

A lover of the meadows and the woods,

And mountains; and of all that we behold

From this green earth

William Wordsworth

From earliest times, humans have demonstrated a remarkable capacity to subdue and alter their physical environment. What began as a struggle for survival became a predominance among living things, then, in wealthier societies, a relentless drive for comfort and pleasure. Even, perhaps especially, in less-developed countries (LDCs), where for many survival remains a struggle, the conquest of nature proceeds apace. "Development" is now a worldwide synonym for progress. 1

It is therefore ironic that the scope and effects of human activity actually threaten our survival as a species. Scientists and politicians cannot agree on the precise causes and implications of, let alone solutions to, such international catastrophes as ozone layer depletion, global warming and species extinction. There is nevertheless growing acceptance of the notion that arrogance, ignorance and greed, combined with overpopulation and powered by technology, are responsible for such severe resource exploitation and environmental degradation as to menace the integrity of the very biosphere, that thin layer of earth, water and air upon which all life depends.

Such ...
 
 
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