2012 Our Year of Change What will your legacy be?
2012 can be the year when we end the era of Ecocide. It’s a moment in the history of humanity when we can say, “Now is the time for new ways of thinking, being and doing. Now is the time to change the rules of the game and create new Earth Law.” We have the landmark Earth Summit in Rio in June, 20 years on from the original Earth Summit where the Dalai Lama spoke out against destruction of the Earth. His words ring equally true today: “Sometimes we just take everything for granted and don't care, and this kind of negligence is also a danger.”
More recently, The Dalai Lama and Archbishop Tutu along with seven other Nobel Peace Prize winners spoke up against the world’s largest ecocide and called on Canadian Prime Minister Harper “to use your power to halt the expansion of the tar sands. Further exploitation of the tar sands will … make turning the clock back on climate change impossible.” Curbing pollution is, they said, a “profoundly moral decision, one that deserves to be placed alongside any other major struggle in human history.” We are gearing up to create a major campaign to ensure the crime of Ecocide becomes law. We shall be calling on world leaders to demonstrate bold, courageous and moral leadership -- leadership that puts people and planet first, over and above the rights of our polluters.
My hope and aspiration for 2012 is a commitment by Heads of State to make Earth Law at the Earth Summit. This is our number 1 priority: to have our leaders commit to Earth Law -- Ecocide and Earth Rights. We shall be seeking business leaders who are willing to take responsibility and support Earth Law, faith leaders to stand up for the Earth, and the people. We believe that the Earth has rights too. Our journey will be epic, and most importantly it will be a challenge -- but I believe we can do it together as one. This can be our legacy for future generations. Together we can eradicate Ecocide.
Climate change is part of the story of our times: tsunamis, hurricanes and floods are part of our world. Climate change is a symptom of Ecocide, be it through human activity that is destructive and causes loss of ecosystems or through the natural cycles of change. Over the next few years we are likely to witness even more. Rising sea levels are unavoidable for many small island states. We will hear more about climate refugees throughout the world. Some countries, like Bangladesh, are facing rising sea levels, Himalayan melting ice and floods -- all of which have knock on consequences for human access to clean water, which in turn brings escalating human ill-health. The global South has a far more uncertain future than the rest of the world. Regardless of where we live, we have a moral duty of care to ensure assistance is given before the worst occurs. Now that we have the knowledge, we have the duty to place their health and well-being over and above all other considerations. Lose the Amazon through wilful exploitation and we lose the lungs of the Earth; lose the oceans and rivers to over-fishing and pollution, lose our ecosystems to other human-made ecocides such as destruction by oil extraction, and we lose our ability to function as humans on this planet. It needn’t be like this. We can each leave a legacy of ecological debt or of ecological credit. We can put back into the system rather than take out -- heal and restore rather than destroy, plant rather than extract. We can envision the future we want, and then take the steps to creating it.
In October I spoke at the Schumacher Centenary Conference and posed the question: "What will your legacy be?" (speech is published in this month’s Resurgence magazine ) As I write today, I visualise a world where all nations have come together to decide what they can do to help the Earth and to help those most adversely affected by Ecocide; all nations working together to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war and to work towards peace. I visualise all nations reaching out to make sure those who need help in every way, be it financially or otherwise, and planning how best to ensure the health and well-being of all peoples. This was the vision that inspired the United Nations in the last century and is embodied in UN Charter, a document which was written by “we the people.” In this century, this year ‘we the people’ can stand again and call on our leaders to speak on behalf of people and planet.
My commitment for 2012 is to end the era of Ecocide. As young people from the US stated in the recent climate negotiations in Durban, “2020 is too late to wait ”. I agree. We can start now to create the future we want. We can do it in small ways and big, each step is equally valued, be it changing our own lives at home or work, writing a letter to a leader you believe in asking him or her to support our campaign, spreading the idea far and wide through your networks, donating or meeting with others you think could help. Each time someone does this, a new connection is made, which in turn can pass on the baton and carry the message further forward. There are already a number of things you can do right now and I will be in touch again soon with details of more activities, including a letter-writing, email and Twitter campaign in January that I really want you to be involved in.
Our campaign is a game changer -- this is literally about changing the rules of the game. That is what law is -- rules of the game of life. We are shifting the paradigm to place life for all as number 1, both people and planet. We shall be calling on leaders to commit to making Earth Law our legacy for our future. We shall be building our campaign over the next 6 months in the run-up to the Earth Summit and taking action: and we ask you to help us write and speak with leaders of all walks of life, asking them to join the growing voice that is shaping a future we want. To do that needs many of us and that is why we are also asking for you to donate to our end of year appeal. We need just over £1,000 to reach our goal of £30,000! Can you help by giving a donation today? Every penny counts. It’s our starter; with it we can build something even bigger.
I ask you all to join me to make 2012 a year where we change our vision into one that leaves a legacy for us to enjoy, a legacy for others who follow -- the legacy where we end Ecocide and where peace for people and planet comes first.
Lawyer and founder of the campaign to make Ecocide a crime
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