|by Nile Stanton
26 January 2023
Justice is the end of government. It is the end of civil society. It ever has been and ever will be pursued until it be obtained, or until liberty be lost in the pursuit. - James Madison
Larry Hicks came within four days of being executed in the Indiana electric chair for supposedly stabbing two men to death in a fight in a Gary home in northwest Indiana. He was absolutely innocent. I represented and him at his second trial, and he was fully exonerated. My short book about the case is available on Amazon here: The Ordeal of Larry Hicks.
JUSTICE IN THE NEWS
It is my firmly held belief that it is manifestly unjust to misspend massive sums of taxpayer dollars to allegedly defend the United States against some imagined threat that China poses. Three days ago, the inimitable Hampshire College professor emeritus Michael T. Klare, published an article detailing a vital part of the conundrum. Here is a lengthy but important snip:
Global warming, scientists tell us, is caused by the accumulation of “anthropogenic” (human-produced) greenhouse gases (GHGs) in the atmosphere that trap the reflected light from the sun’s radiation. Most of those GHGs are carbon and methane emitted during the production and combustion of fossil fuels (oil, coal, and natural gas); additional GHGs are released through agricultural and industrial processes, especially steel and cement production. To prevent global warming from exceeding 1.5 degrees Celsius above the pre-industrial era — the largest increase scientists believe the planet can absorb without catastrophic outcomes — such emissions will have to be sharply reduced.
Historically speaking, the United States and the European Union (EU) countries have been the largest GHG emitters, responsible for 25% and 22% of cumulative CO2 emissions, respectively. But those countries, and other advanced industrial nations like Canada and Japan, have been taking significant steps to reduce their emissions, including phasing out the use of coal in electricity generation and providing incentives for the purchase of electric vehicles. As a result, their net CO2 emissions have diminished in recent years and are expected to decline further in the decades to come (though they will need to do yet more to keep us below that 1.5-degree warming limit).
China, a relative latecomer to the industrial era, is historically responsible for “only” 13% of cumulative global CO2 emissions. However, in its drive to accelerate its economic growth in recent decades, it has vastly increased its reliance on coal to generate electricity, resulting in ever-greater CO2 emissions. China now accounts for an astonishing 56% of total world coal consumption, which, in turn, largely explains its current dominance among the major carbon emitters. According to the 2022 edition of the International Energy Agency’s World Energy Outlook, the PRC was responsible for 33% of global CO2 emissions in 2021, compared with 15% for the U.S. and 11% for the EU.
Like most other countries, China has pledged to abide by the Paris Climate Agreement of 2015 and undertake the decarbonization of its economy as part of a worldwide drive to keep global warming within some bounds. As part of that agreement, however, China identified itself as a “developing” country with the option of increasing its fossil-fuel use for 15 years or so before achieving a peak in CO2 emissions in 2030. Barring some surprising set of developments then, the PRC will undoubtedly remain the world’s leading source of CO2 emissions for years to come, suffusing the atmosphere with colossal amounts of carbon dioxide and undergirding a continuing rise in global temperatures.
Yes, the United States, Japan, and the EU countries should indeed do more to reduce their emissions, but they’re already on a downward trajectory and an even more rapid decline will not be enough to offset China’s colossal CO2 output. Put differently, those Chinese emissions — estimated by the IEA at 12 billion metric tons annually — represent at least as great a threat to U.S. security as the multitude of tanks, planes, ships, and missiles enumerated in the Pentagon’s 2022 report on security developments in the PRC. [Emphasis added.] That means they will require the close attention of American policymakers if we are to escape the most severe impacts of climate change. [Inside hyperlinks omitted.]
Let's remember, now, that the U.S. military is the world's largest institutional consumer of fossil fuels and produces approximately as much CO2 emissions as Nigeria, a nation of 216 million people. That's what happens when a country tries to garrison the planet and tromps around in search of enemies. (Find time to read In Search of Monsters to Destroy by Christopher J. Coyne.)
So, America, get on this! I say that the USA should try to work with China using meaningful diplomacy in an effort to assure that our beloved Earth is in good shape for future generations. Those of you who are truly "pro-life" should be more than willing to work on this.
AN HISTORIC CASE OF INJUSTICE
Now, I am impelled direct attention to an older and rightfully infamous case of injustice, gross irresponsibility on the part of corporate actors that caused massive damage to the environment and resulted in many deaths.
Consider the Deepwater Horizon oil spill of 2010. On April 20, 2010, an explosion occurred on the Deepwater Horizon oil rig, which was owned by Transocean and leased by BP, in the Gulf of Mexico. The explosion caused the rig to sink and resulted in a massive oil spill that lasted for 87 days. The oil spill affected the environment and marine life in the Gulf of Mexico, and also caused significant economic losses for the region's fishing and tourism industries.
The investigation into the cause of the explosion found that BP, Transocean, and Halliburton, the company responsible for the cementing of the well, had made a series of mistakes and failed to properly maintain the rig. Many workers on the rig were killed or injured as a result of the explosion, and many more lost their jobs due to the economic impact of the disaster.
The oil spill also highlighted the lack of safety and regulation in the offshore drilling industry. BP and other parties involved in the disaster reached settlements with the federal government and several states, and BP pleaded guilty to 11 counts of misconduct or neglect of ship officers and one violation of the Clean Water Act.