The following piece was written by me in 1972 as a part of my studies for my Master’s Degree in International law.of International Law degree at New York University. In concerns the prospect of prosecuting ocean polluters as for international crimes just as we prosecute pirates. The first section: The Death of the Ocean the Mother of life seems particularly relevant to environmental crisis we face today that now threatens the humanity with an "Apocalypse of Selfishness."
Reprinted from The International Lawyer, Vol.6, No. 4, October 1972 Page 706
Copyright 1972 American Bar Association
Are Ocean Polluters Subject to Universal Jurisdiction: Canada Breaks the Ice
By John C. Klotz*
A. The Death of the Ocean – Mother of Life
Until now, human development has proceeded on the assumption that the earth and its resources were created for the use and exploitation by mankind, and were so plentiful that little thought need be given to their ultimate exhaustion.(Nte. 1) In terms of ecology, man’s economic theories have advanced little beyond those of the Stone Age: "slash and burn" agricultural communities who roam the world’s tropical forests, slashing and burning trees to create small plots for cultivation, and when the soil is soon exhausted, moving on to another part of the forest to slash and burn again.
Similarly, modern man has exploited the resources of the earth with such reckless abandon, that the human race is now faced with an ecological crisis of unbelievable complexity. We now know that the earth’s resources are limited, with the points of exhaustion of many of the most basic resources near at hand, and that exploitation and industrialization are exacting such a fearful toll that life, as we now know it, may be doomed to extinction.(Nte. 2)
Perhaps the most obvious of the world’s endangered ecological systems is the ocean.(Nte. 3) Ocean waters cover four-fifths of the earth’s surface. Its interaction with the atmosphere determines weather and climate and each influences in many ways the composition of the other.(Nte. 4) Over 70 percent of the atmosphere’s oxygen was created by ocean organisms.(Nte. 5) The ocean is an integral part of the world’s food supply and an important communications link between the continents. Thus, the destruction or alteration of the ocean’s ecosystems would threaten the earth’s supply of oxygen, lead to the possibility of seriously altered climates and threaten destruction of an important source of the world’s present and future food supply.(Nte. 6)