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The unseen danger of declaring fake “climate emergencies”

Posted By Jo Nova On September 28, 2019 @ 4:18 am In Global Warming | Comments Disabled

A declaration of a fake emergency is just like yelling “fire” in a crowded theatre

Climate emergency protest, by Takver from Australia

Photo by Takver.

A couple of days after skeptics were banned by The Conversation, came an article advising how people who do illegal, potentially dangerous things can use the “climate emergency” as a legal defense. Skeptics and scientists might rub their hands with glee, waiting for the climate emergency to be vaporised by any half decent prosecuting lawyer. But that won’t happen — the alleged law breakers don’t have to prove there is a climate emergency, they just have to prove that a reasonable person would think there is. So when East Widgiemooltha declares a “mergency”, that is enough.

So when a local council succumbs to fashion whims or gets heckled into declaring an emergency it’s effectively encouraging vandals, tyrants, and paranoid eco-terrorists.

Activists are using the climate emergency as a new legal defence to justify law-breaking

Senior lecturer, School of Law and Justice, Southern Cross University

 The defence permits law-breaking in circumstances of “sudden or extraordinary emergency” if:

an ordinary person possessing ordinary power of self-control could not reasonably be expected to act otherwise.

It’s a version of the common law “necessity defence”, which allows law-breaking to avoid greater harm or irreparable evil. This defence has been argued by climate activists in the US and UK for over a decade.

But unlike the common law defence, the extraordinary emergency defence is only activated by a sudden or extraordinary emergency.

Using climate change as a legal defence worked in the UK in 2008 when Greenpeace protesters painted graffiti on the chimney of a British power station. A jury acquitted them of property damage charges on the basis of necessity.

And earlier this year, another UK jury acquitted Extinction Rebellion founder Roger Hallam and a fellow activist of similar charges. While the judge ruled climate change was irrelevant, the jury was persuaded by the defendants’ argument that their actions were a proportionate response to the climate crisis.

In the US, judges have been largely reluctant to let climate activists use this defence, and no climate activist has yet been acquitted of criminal charges when they do use it.

Valve Turners



And if that means that shutting high pressure gas pipeline valves down as a narcissistic stunt, that risks explosions, the “necessity excuse” might help someone avoid a 26 year jail sentence. Nothing says “we approve” quite like not punishing them.

However, in 2018, a US judge downgraded the charges against pipeline protesters to civil infractions and then found them not responsible on the basis of necessity. And, in 2019, “Valve Turner” protester Ken Ward succeeded in having his conviction overturned, on the basis he should have been allowed to argue necessity as a constitutional right.

But framing the “necessity defence” as an “extraordinary emergency defence” in jurisdictions like Queensland allows Australian climate activists to take advantage of the growing acceptance of climate change as emergency.

What they all need (the ABC, The Conversation, etc) is a calm voice reminding them of the 1001 reasons there’s no emergency. Obviously that won’t happen since they just banned calmness. Speaking of which: on this very important topic there were only 29 comments  of which 13 (50%!) were “automatically flagged for inspection by a moderator” and remain trapped there four days later. What’s the bet these comments will appear in 1 week, 1 month, 1 year — or only after Donald Trump is declared King?

The only good question Nicole Rogers asks:

Climate change emergency makes legal norms unworkable

So what is reasonable conduct in the face of the mounting climate crisis? The importance of asking this question cannot be overstated.

The Climate Emergency is a Conversation Emergency. We need to talk about our national conversations.

Attempts to avert this catastrophe through non-violent acts of civil disobedience will come to seem reasonable.

Only in The Monologues thought bubble Nicole.

If you live in a Climate Emergency Zone it’s time to get it rescinded.

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