The Case for Crimes Against Humanity; or, the End of Rex Tillerson

I ask you to consider this:

If climate change can reasonably be expected to cause severe consequences, including large-scale loss of material goods, wealth, land, livelihood, and life; and

If any person intentionally conceals the extent of the consequences or their likelihood of occurring; or

If any person intentionally prevents action to forestall those consequences;

Then, regardless of that person’s motivation, he surely commits a crime against humanity and deserves to be tried accordingly.*

rex tillerson Given that there is considerable evidence in favour of climate change occurring, that it is dangerous and will only get more so, that Exxon has given substantial contributions to organizations and individuals whose job it is to obfuscate the truth about climate change, and that Rex Tillerson has been the responsible person at Exxon during the time of the contributions, I believe there is sufficient evidence to charge Rex Tillerson with crimes against humanity.

The prosecution could call virtually any climate scientist working in the field today. Mr. Tillerson’s richly compensated defence team can only counter with paid shills possessing highly dubious credentials. Some previously worked with the tobacco companies to conceal the truth about the danger of cigarette smoking. Many still do.

Some will see this charge as overdue. Others will see it as the work of an insane “environmentalist.” I suggest that, if Copenhagen turns out to be a dud, and if the rich people and companies and countries keep getting richer while many others are driven from the land by desertification, sea level rise and storms, the spread of pests, and other signs of the End Times, that there will be blowback.

It is not impossible that some of the countries first affected will do something desperate, like geoengineering without international approval. Bangladesh, for example, will be devastated by even a small sea level rise or stronger storms; their country is virtually flat and right at sea level.

bangladeshi's The Bangladeshis might look at climate change rather more urgently than we do. 100 million people will be displaced by each metre of sea level rise – a level looking all too likely to occur this century.

Many of them will be Bangladeshis, or from other countries that will be partially drowned, that will see tens of millions driven inland into already crowded areas, that will see tens of millions lose their homes, their businesses, their properties – to become climate refugees. There may be 50 million climate refugees by 2010.

Nobody has to worry much about repercussions from the tiny nations already or about to be gone (Tuvalu and Maldives, for example); too powerless. But a group of these nations, united in common cause – and a crisis of this nature will surely help cooperation in this manner – could decide to “do something.” And who could blame them?

But perhaps a less destabilizing first step could be arresting Rex Tillerson and charging him with crimes against humanity, for deliberately acting to conceal the threat from climate change and for stalling action on protecting ourselves. Why would Bangladesh and the other climactically-damaged countries not arrest Rex Tillerson and any other paid denier they could get their hands on?

With or without UN support, which the US would no doubt veto anyway? At some point, people will be driven to desperation because they have nothing to lose. And they may well hold some of our corporate titans and their scientific prostitutes and paid shills to a higher moral standard than we yet have.

* I realise that the charge of crimes against humanity applies only to “a government or a de facto authority,” but this is the other end of the stick that corporate leaders picked up when they decided to make it their business to “influence” governments.

Editor's note: Watch out for Brian's next installment: The Case for Treason.

More great stories on Celsias:

Myth vs. Reality on International Climate Change

Study: Fewer Babies is the Best Climate Change Solution

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If you see any unhelpful comments, please let us know immediately.

Phil (anonymous)

I followed a similar path of reasoning on my blog a few weeks ago:

" Is consuming the new oil that BP has discovered tantamount to a crime against humanity and the planet?

Is drilling for oil knowing full well (my apologies for another bad pun) that the oil discovered will be burnt spewing CO2 into the atmosphere, morally reprehensible?

My answer to both questions is a resounding yes, what's yours?"

Written in September 2009

Yes, it's a very interesting, real-life ethical dilemma. Please include a link to your blog in a comment.

The practical problem is that those of us in the developed world live in a car-based society. It is far cheaper to fly from one end of the country than to take the train, for example. And it's hard to live within easy walking/transit of work, housing, and community (including everything from friends to shopping).

Yet, at the same time, many of us know that every kilometre we drive, every steak we eat, every pet we own, and every child we have is one step closer to utter catastrophe for our children. And quite possibly for us, too; climate change is already dangerous, we are working to avert catastrophic climate change (John Holdren said this).

What's a moral person to do?

Written in September 2009

skeptic (anonymous)

you brainless farts

Written in September 2009

You worthless troll.

Written in September 2009

scapegoating (anonymous)

It takes two to tango. Rex is just the drug pusher. We're the ones sticking it into our veins.

Written in October 2009

scapegoating: True...but not entirely. The point is that Tillerson and crew are obscuring and lying to make us think the junk is harmless - even good for us.

Written in October 2009

Hmmmm. (anonymous)

If the last couple of years have proven anything, it is that the economy is delicate - beyond what many thought. Rex Tillerson has not been in his role for very long. You're article is well intentioned, though you may not understand the momentum of industry, and how much depends on the production of oil. The oil companies should not be responsible for the demand. It seems like your focus is on this conspiracy to blind, steal, and destroy - when in reality, the issue is more demand driven than it is production-side driven. Nobody cares about analysis and finger pointing - people care about solutions. Is charging Rex Tillerson the best EXECUTABLE solution you can propose? Until we propose a swift, well-calculated, and executable transition from oil, all criticism of the oil industry is pointless. I was watching a video of Rex getting interviewed by a panel of politicians who were trying to corner him. At one point, he pointed out that some of the critics on that panel were stakeholders in XOM. You are more like those panel members than you know. You may not think so, but you'll respond through the keyboard that oil produced.

Written in January 2010

Brent (anonymous)

I believe that the contribution of CO2 to the atmosphere must be thought of in a marginal analysis. The only solution to drive down global CO2 levels requires fewer people on the planet. Whether Exxon produces hydrocarbons is irrelevant provided that there is a market for it. Why focus on Exxon and not Rosneft, Gazprom, Saudi Aramco, or PDVSA. These are the companies with the largest quantity of recoverable hydrocarbon reserves. But of course, it is unlikely that this article is well researched otherwise it would be obvious to you that you are a moron.

Written in December 2012

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  • Posted on Sept. 28, 2009. Listed in:

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