Label corporate practices on climate change as criminal

I have been in the profession of crime and violence prevention for more than four decades. Recent events convince me that we as a nation and as a citizenry need to dramatically re-define the word “crime” and expand its scope and definition. Historically when people in my profession talk about “white collar crime” we zero in on the likes of hucksters and thieves and charlatans like Bernie Madoff who siphoned the life savings from an array of victims.

However this narrow definition gives a blank check to the greatest white collar criminals in human history. For example in the mid-1970s the Exxon corporation through meticulous research confirmed the inevitably of human caused climate change/global warming through carbon emissions. This perhaps is the greatest and most damning case of white collar crime in human history. A private corporation committed to maximizing profit omitted and hid confirming science that has sweeping implications for all mankind. The word “crime” has rarely been levied at Exxon.

The point is we need to sensitize ourselves to the realities of epic and global corporate wrong doing and levy the criminal definition and distinction that has for far too long been omitted by our cultural institutions. We have to acknowledge and identify those forces that threaten the planet as criminal renegades and take decisive and immediate action in addressing said criminal behavior.

For many this may sound like a radical re-definition of “white collar crime” or “crime.” Hardly so, when one carefully analyzes what global corporate forces are doing to the planet. The realization hits that targeting these entities with the well deserved “criminal” label is if anything a grand understatement when taking into account the peril they have put all of global humanity in.

Jim Sawyer

Edmonds

Talk to us

More in Opinion

Editorial cartoons for Saturday, May 30

A sketchy look at the day in politics.… Continue reading

Editorial: Work ahead even if county can move to Phase 2

While easing restrictions would be welcome, there’s much to be done to get the economy going again.

Schwab: It’s not fraud but the voters’ will that Trump fears

If mail-in ballots’ record in this state doesn’t convince, his objections to fact-checking should.

Comment: Why many police departments look like military units

The militarization of police departments has increased incidents where undue force has led to tragedy.

Where Trump went wrong with pandemic response

President Trump has made some “bigly” missteps along the way. Having said… Continue reading

Editorial cartoons for Friday, May 29

A sketchy look at the day in the coronavirus pandemic (and politics).… Continue reading

Editorial: State officials’ pay raises poorly timed

Set by a citizen panel a year ago, the raises begin just as the state needs to make deep budget cuts.

Editorial: If not for yourself, wear face masks for others

Masks aren’t perfect, but studies are showing they can help limit the spread of the coronavirus.

Editorial: State gains keener watch of dams to protect salmon

The state can now require federal dam operators to maintain cooler river temperatures to aid salmon.

Most Read