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Does Global Warming Justify Breaking The Law?

The threat of global warming is so great to the survival of humankind ruled a jury in Great Britain that individuals who resort to violence in order to halt this process should not be deemed to have committed a crime. Jurors in Maidstone Crown Court accepted the argument of the defense attorney of six Greenpeace activists who caused over $70,000 worth of damage to a coal-fired power station. the defense of “lawful excuse” under the Criminal damage Act of 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 issue leading to damage arose from the decision to build a new generation of coal-fired plants. Greenpeace activists argue such plants cause even greater environmental damage because they are coal powered. During the trial, a leading climate scientist, Professor James Hansen of NASA urged the British government to halt the program and called for a moratorium on ll col-fired power stations. The jury obviously was impressed by such testimony and accepted the arguments of the defendants they acted on the basis of concern for the environment.