Victor Hugo once said, “There’s nothing more powerful than an idea whose time has come.” The eradication of ecocide is such an idea.

I believe each of us has something of value to offer the world at large; each of us has a mission. My recent guest on Voices from the North, U.K. lawyer Polly Higgins, has found hers.

Polly Higgins is the author of the award-winning Eradicating Ecocide: laws and governance to prevent the destruction of our planet. She has been voted one of the “World’s Top 10 Visionary Thinkers” by the Ecologist and named “the Planet’s lawyer” by the 2010 Change Awards. Listen to our complete interview below:

Ecocide is a term first coined in the 1970s. Ecocide is anything that causes mass damage, destruction to or loss of ecosystems.

And though the term ecocide has existed for decades the idea whose time has come is Polly’s. She proposes to make Ecocide the 5th international Crime against Peace.

Her proposed amendment to the Rome Statute says: Ecocide is the extensive damage to, destruction of or loss of ecosystem(s) of a given territory, whether by human agency or by other causes, to such an extent that peaceful enjoyment by the inhabitants of that territory has been severely diminished.

You can now help change the course of history and sign a petition at Avaaz asking world leaders to address ecocide at the Rio+20 Earth Summit in June: Below is the link:

http://www.avaaz.org/en/petition/NOW_IS_OUR_CHANCE_TO_END_ECOCIDE/?cmfScdb

As Polly Higgins and her growing team of advocates claim on their website www.eradicatingecocide.com ‘by legally defining ecocide, anything that causes mass ecocide will stop. All companies that cause ecocide, such as oil companies, will have to become clean energy companies. This will happen because investors will divert money towards green industry rather than companies engaging in illegal, environmentally-damaging practices. Thus, the [ecocide] law creates a framework allowing companies to shift from “polluter pays” to “polluter doesn’t pollute”.’

A favourite uncle of mine, Dr. Roger Butler invented a technology that allows economically viable horizontal extraction of oil from tar sands. His discovery has resulted in what is arguably the single biggest environmental eyesore on the planet. The Athabasca Tar Sands project has created an ugly, poisonous blight in the northern Canadian tundra easily visible from space. It is immense. It is the size of England and Wales combined and it continues to grow. My uncle, an intelligent, passionate and highly likeable character could hardly have foreseen the scale of devastation his discovery has wrought.

Here’s a little on the dirty oil of the Athabasca Tar Sands:

Polly Higgins revealed in our time together on the radio that one of her forebears, Patillo Higgins, discovered oil in Texas in 1901. His well was a gusher that was still working one hundred years later. The well had an initial flow rate greater than all of the oil wells in the United States combined in that day. The Spindletop oilfield churned out over 3 million barrels the first year of operation, and over 17 million barrels the following year. This effectively brought an end to John D. Rockefeller’s world monopoly.

 Within fifteen years of his oil discovery an unprecedented industry build-up resulting in half a million jobs had emerged.

So it would seem Polly and I (and many others) have ‘ancestral dirt’ on our hands. It goes to show each of us has a responsibility to future generations to reverse current trends of destruction and ensure this planet remains beautiful, unsullied and teeming with life.

The scale with which corporations extract minerals and oil from the sub-surface of the earth today is unprecedented and hugely destructive. Despite blatant warnings such as Chernobyl and the 2011 Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster, nuclear power is still expanding. China alone has 14 nuclear power reactors in operation, more than 25 under construction, and more about to start construction soon. Despite the 2008 BP debacle in the Gulf of Mexico deep sea oil drilling continues unabated. Despite the known dangers of fracking (including the poisoning of groundwater and increased seismic activity), the present New Zealand government is freely handing out permits for this practise of induced hydraulic fracturing or hydrofracking, commonly known as fracking, a technique using drilling and the pressurized introduction of water, sand and chemicals to release petroleum, natural gas or other substances to the surface for extraction.

Present laws of contract compel corporate leaders to maximize shareholder profits. There is little incentive to address downstream environmental impacts in decision making.

Please visit www.eradicatingecocide.com and find out how you can add your voice to a growing chorus of voices calling for laws which acknowledge that the Earth herself is precious and has rights and is not simply a resource to be plundered. As it says on Polly’s website: By giving mass damage destruction and loss of ecosystems legal definition we can close the door to the killing of the Earth. This is a world that deserves to live.

Time is of the utmost. Polly Higgins would dearly like to see ecocide championed at the Rio+20 Earth Summit in June this year. That’s only weeks from now. Spread the word and get the cyber waves humming about this brave and timely vision destined to create a legal framework for peace.

http://www.avaaz.org/en/petition/NOW_IS_OUR_CHANCE_TO_END_ECOCIDE/?cmfScdb

‘Current law protects the polluter, not people and planet. Laws provide pollution permits. If a company exceeds its limits it can be fined, which often makes no difference, as they can afford to pay the fines and still make profit. The law has set up a system that gives companies the right to pollute and destroy.

By creating a law of Ecocide, the law will protect people and planet.

By placing the interests of other people and beings first, and over profit, the consequences of actions take priority. If a decision is going to lead to damage and destruction, then it will be a crime. Looking after the Earth – a duty of care – will become the number one priority.’ (from www.eradicatingecocide.com )

Until now, the Earth has been burning while lawyers and environmentalists have fiddled with environmental legislation and protests against harmful projects like the Tar Sands. Ecocide laws will allow us to put the fires out.


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Radio host, inspirational speaker and health educator John Haines is the author of In Search of Simplicity: A True Story that Changes Lives and the recently released Beyond the Search, books to lift the spirit and touch the heart. See http://www.JohnHainesBooks.com

 

“In Search of Simplicity is a unique and awe-inspiring way to re-visit and even answer some of the gnawing questions we all intrinsically have about the meaning of life and our true, individual purpose on the planet. I love this book.”

 

Barbara Cronin, Circles of Light. For the complete review visit: http://www.circlesoflight.com/blog/in-search-of-simplicity/

 

“In Search of Simplicity is one of those rare literary jewels with the ability to completely and simultaneously ingratiate itself into the mind, heart and soul of the reader.”

 

Heather Slocumb, Apex Reviews

 

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If it doesn’t kill you it makes you stronger . . . but with a limp.

Dan Rhema

When I started recording Voices from the North nearly six years ago it was because I truly believed in the ability of our stories to touch and transform the lives of those prepared to listen.

My most recent interview does just that on a profound level. I strongly encourage you to listen below:

Dan Rhema has made a journey to hell and back and found a piece of heaven along the way. He has tapped a hitherto unknown creative gift to heal himself and simultaneously touch and heal others through his artistic creations. Here’s Dan Rhema’s encapsulated story as found on his website at http://www.danrhema.com/artist.html

 In 1991, Dan was living with his wife and three daughters on the Gulf Coast of Mexico in the small town of Santiago Tuxla. At the time, he was president of El Centro, Inc., a not-for-profit international training and retreat center.

During the seasonal rains, an epidemic of Dengue Fever (also known as Break Bone Fever) swept through the Tuxla Mountain Area. All of his family except his youngest daughter fell victim to the fever.

By the time he had arrived at Crawford Long Memorial Hospital, he was well into a delirium caused by the high fever and other complications. Later that evening, during a spinal tap which confirmed that he had contracted spinal meningitis, Dan had a near death experience.

Dan relates, “I traveled out of my body and began journeying down a long dark tunnel. As I progressed down the tunnel, I remember thinking that I did not want to die without my wife and children being with me. My progress down the tunnel ended and I began the long struggle back to consciousness, one level at a time.”

Early in his recovery, Dan began to create works of art using locally collected wild thorny vines which to him represented the damage which the fever had inflicted on his brain. Later, in Tucson, Arizona, Dan began to write short stories and collect objects found during walks in the desert.

After moving to Louisville, Kentucky in April 1995, Dan began to create multimedia collages, sculptures, and masks from his collection of found objects. In 1997 he began to paint, capturing the images flowing through him in a unique three dimensional style. His art has been heavily influenced by his illness, his readings in comparative mythology, and his own search for spiritual meaning.

 

During our interview Dan relates that one of his most important hurdles in his two decade long healing journey has been the need to let go of the man he once was and embrace the man he is today. Dan Rhema’s experience has been extreme but isn’t this perspective what we each need to live – each moment?

Pain is simply the difference between what is and what I want it to be.

Spencer Johnson, M.D.

Before his illness Dan had been a seeker. He is no more. He appears to be content to accept the mystery of life without the urge to figure it out.

Life is a mystery to be lived, not a problem to be solved.

Osho 

Dan’s illness has left him with huge gaps in his long-term memory. He doesn’t remember his wedding day or the early years of his children. He also initially had virtually no short term memory. Out of necessity he became an at-home dad. Even driving his children to school was an adventure – he wasn’t sure which way to turn.

The art that periodically pours through him has been his saviour. His brain has had to rewire after the trauma of the fever and has consequently left him with a seemingly direct link to the subconscious memory of humanity’s roots – a sort of shamanic viewpoint Dan feels lies in all of us, but which is usually buried too deeply to access. I wonder if Dan Rhema’s paintings and sculptures touch viewers so profoundly because they trigger these deeply buried memories and/or earlier traumas and near death experiences in them.

Dan claims that 80% of relationships in which one of the partners suffers a brain illness are blown apart. Without the unflinching support of his wife, Susan, Dan would probably have been institutionalized and the world would be poorer for it.

Visit Dan’s website at: http://www.danrhema.com/  

Dan Rhema on Voices from the North:

“Dan is truly blessed with a gift for relating art to people in a way that is very spiritual and cultural. For him to be able to talk about his experience and be able to embrace and relate it to other ethnic groups and religions is truly phenomenal.”Shirley Sweatt, art collector
“I’ve been struggling for years to perfect certain techniques, as all artists do. For Dan to have no formal training and to be able to create these amazing sculptures is hard for me to grasp. It’s very humbling as an artist to see him be able to express his ideas so vividly.”Kevin Payne, artist/teacher

Dan Rhema, artist, writer, and filmmaker lives in historic Old Louisville, Kentucky. His art has been exhibited throughout America, in solo and group shows, for the past fifteen years. Dan’s picture books include The Day the Animals Lost Their True Colors (a 2002 IPPY Awards Finalist), One Tiny Twig, and Bluegrass Breeze. His most recent book, I Close My Eyes to See: The Dan Rhema Story As Told to Kevin Wilson, documents Dan’s transformation into an artist after surviving a deadly combination of three different strains of dengue fever. A documentary about Dan’s story is scheduled for completion in this year.

 
CLICK BELOW TO:

Subscribe to In Search of Simplicity by Email

 

Radio host, inspirational speaker and health educator John Haines is the author of In Search of Simplicity: A True Story that Changes Lives and the recently released Beyond the Search, books to lift the spirit and touch the heart. See http://www.JohnHainesBooks.com

 

“In Search of Simplicity is a unique and awe-inspiring way to re-visit and even answer some of the gnawing questions we all intrinsically have about the meaning of life and our true, individual purpose on the planet. I love this book.”

 

Barbara Cronin, Circles of Light. For the complete review visit: http://www.circlesoflight.com/blog/in-search-of-simplicity/

 

“In Search of Simplicity is one of those rare literary jewels with the ability to completely and simultaneously ingratiate itself into the mind, heart and soul of the reader.”

 

Heather Slocumb, Apex Reviews