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September 11, 2008

To Our British Brothers and Sisters: The Hammer Has Fallen

Today a jury in Kent accepted the argument that vandalism at a coal power plant is a legally justified response to global warming. Last year, six Greenpeace idiots climbed the stack at Kingsnorth power station and painted "Gordon" (the Prime Minister's first name) in protest. It cost 35,000 to remove.

The defence of "lawful excuse" under the Criminal Damage Act 1971 allows damage to be caused to property to prevent even greater damage such as breaking down the door of a burning house to tackle a fire.

The not-guilty verdict, delivered after two days and greeted with cheers in the courtroom, raises the stakes for the most pressing issue on Britain's green agenda and could encourage further direct action.


During the trial the defendants said they had acted lawfully, owing to an honestly held belief that their attempt to stop emissions from Kingsnorth would prevent further damage to properties worldwide caused by global warming. Their aim, they said, was to rein back CO2 emissions and bring urgent pressure to bear on the Government and E.ON [the power company] to changes policies. They insisted their action had caused the minimum amount of damage necessary to close the plant down and constituted a "proportionate response" to the increasing environmental threat.

Authorities and utilities and, well, everyone should be a little worried about this. There's no reason to expect that other juries would do the same thing if similar cases come up...except that the defense of lawful excuse is shockingly easy to claim in a case like this.

For lawful excuse to apply, it is immaterial whether the belief is justified or not so long as it is honestly held. And with AGW being taught in schools and preached in Parliament it wouldn't be difficult at all for juries to conclude that green activists honestly believe that illegally shutting down a power station is less harmful than allowing it to operate normally.

Greenpeace pulled out all the stops for this one, flying in James Hansen to testify to the dangers of global warming. I almost don't blame the jury. This con man has been swindling whole countries for twenty years now, starting with our own. Anthony Watts is calling for NASA to fire him, though I don't see that happening.

I think I've mentioned it here before, one of my favorite novels is Niven and Pournelle's Lucifer's Hammer, which is the finest example of apocalyptic fiction. I first read it when I was in my teens and if you've read it, you know why this case made me think of the book's San Joaquin Nuclear Project. Civilization, represented by the people who literally keep the lights on, is confronted by a vast and relentless (not to mention cannibalistic) horde led by a charismatic preacher of a false religion. The book was published in 1977. Those guys are geniuses.

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posted by Gabriel Malor at 12:52 AM

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