M.V Erika chartered by Total-Fina-Elf, sank off the coast of France in 1999, causing a major environmental disaster. Photo source: French Navy / gcaptain
France’s highest court upheld a conviction against oil major Total SA over a 1999 oil spill, caused by the wreck of the Erika oil tanker off the Brittany coast in 1999, in a blow to the company which had hoped it would be absolved of blame for one of France’s worst environmental disasters.
The appeals court ruled against the public prosecutors’ office, which had argued that a French court could not judge the case…
France upholds Total verdict over Erika oil spill, BBC News
France’s top court has upheld fines imposed on the French oil giant Total for an oil disaster in 1999. The tanker Erika sank off the coast of Brittany dumping 30,000 barrels of heavy fuel oil into the Atlantic sea.
Erika : la cour valide le «préjudice écologique», Le Figaro
La décision de la Cour de Cassation, très défavorable au pétrolier, grave cette notion pour la première fois dans le marbre. La définition qu’apporte la cour du préjudice écologique va beaucoup plus loin que tous les textes en vigueur. Les collectivités locales, ou les associations, essentiellement, pourront désormais exiger une indemnisation du pollueur en cas d’atteinte «non négligeable» à l’environnement, en plus du remboursement des dégât matériels proprement dits…
Bird affected by the crude oil spilled from the stricken ‘Prestige’ oil tanker on the beach at Valcovo, Galacia, Spain, just 3 years after Erika’s disaster. Photo source: © Greenpeace / Pedro Armestre. The Prestige oil spill was an oil spill off the coast of Galicia caused by the sinking of the Prestige oil tanker in 2002. The spill polluted thousands of kilometers of coastline and more than one thousand beaches on the Spanish, French and Portuguese coast.
The Natural Contract, Michel Serre
Global environmental change, argues Michel Serres, has forced us to reconsider our relationship to nature. In this translation of his influential 1990 book Le Contrat Naturel, Serres calls for a natural contract to be negotiated between Earth and its inhabitants.
World history is often referred to as the story of human conflict. Those struggles that are seen as our history must now include the uncontrolled violence that humanity perpetrates upon the earth, and the uncontrollable menace to human life posed by the earth in reaction to this violence. Just as a social contract once brought order to human relations, Serres believes that we must now sign a “natural contract” with the earth to bring balance and reciprocity to our relations with the planet that gives us life. Our survival depends on the extent to which humans join together and act globally, on an earth now conceived as an entity.
Tracing the ancient beginnings of modernity, Serres examines the origins and possibilities of a natural contract through an extended meditation on the contractual foundations of law and science. By invoking a nonhuman, physical world, Serres asserts, science frees us from the oppressive confines of a purely social existence, but threatens to become a totalitarian order in its own right. The new legislator of the natural contract must bring science and law into balance.
The New Ecological Order, by Luc Ferry; Kirkus Review
Should animals have specific legal rights? Should trees have standing? Just how far do our responsibilities go toward nature, asks Ferry (Philosophy/Sorbonne) in this erudite and entertaining critique of environmentalism. Ferry (Political Philosophy, not reviewed, etc.) starts this study of environmental ethics back in the 16th century, when troublesome beetles and leeches were put on trial, when the rats of Autun were issued summonses–well, at least they had their day in court. Now environmental activists are demanding a new ecological mindset, one in which nature writ large has the same rights as humans.