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The Contender
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Ecoterrorisum is jusifable

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 4/14/2013 Category: Politics
Updated: 3 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 5,559 times Debate No: 32470
Debate Rounds (5)
Comments (6)
Votes (2)




Eco terrorism is justifiable

1st Round is for acceptance and definitions only - NO ARGUMENTS.

I call for a debate as to whether eco-terrorism is justified.
I will define "eco terrorism" as unlawful destruction or dispossession of others property to protect the environment.

Examples include arson and destruction of unmanned machinery/buildings. Examples also include the theft of animals used in testing laboratories.
Actions that result in the death or injury to human beings are not to be debated as it is widely accepted within the environmental movement that violence against any living thing is morally wrong.

To explain why I am not including it - while this is eco terrorism it is widely held to be an unjustifiable form of eco terrorism, it would be wrong to suppose from this that all forms are or are not justifable. I look forward to hearing my opponent"s views and giving my own on this topic.

A quick example - consider me baking a cake (as im a terrible baker it is going to taste rather bad), if an alien with no experience of earth or cakes was to taste it the alien may that ALL cakes are disgusting.
In simple form:

P1 Bruces cakes tastes bad
C All cakes taste bad.

This is a logical fallacy as it jumps to a conclusion from having analysed one sample. I hope this has clarified the debate and you not confused anyone more! If you still have questions message me!

I hope my opponent finds this definition agreeable and I wish them a polite and thoughtful debate.


I accpet this debate, it seems very interesting and fair. In general, I agree with the definitions and terms, however I would ask that my opponent offer a criteria for "justifiable".

In this case, I will be arguing that "Justifiable" in terms of ecoterrorism means that ecoterrorism is justifiable if and only if it acheives the ends which ecoterrorists seek (which would be long term environmental change uniquely stemming from the acts themselves).

If you have a counter criteria, you may offer it and we can debate it and so on.

Good luck to my opponent.
Debate Round No. 1


Argument 1. Effect on public opinion

To bring about long term environmental change we require a popular consensus so that government brings business to account over poor environmental practice. We also require citizens to be well informed of environmental issues and the practices of common brands so that they can make an informed decisions between competing products, providing incentives for business to be environmentally friendly.

This process of informing citizens and growing political movements will occur much faster with eco terrorism that without it. While a protest march, a sit in or a conference might get a few column inches, taking radical action guarantees that the front page of every newspaper and the opening story on news channels will be environmentalism " this will promote debate and more importantly it will reach a lot of people who do not know about environmentalism. After all much of the pro-green press is very small and gets little distribution often it is in the form of internet articles and blogs that people have to make the decision to go out and look for themselves. Acts of eco terrorism will provide the impetus for people to go out and find this material, but also as environmentalism is now topical it provides the chance for pro-green writers to get their opinions published in the mainstream media. This opportunity allows environmentalists the opportunity to appear rational and patriotic by decrying the use of such tactics but making a case for some change. This is incredibly important as it breaks down the anti-establishment stigma that plagues environmentalism making them unelectable. Eco terrorism catalysis"s the mainstream environmental movement by providing environmentalists with a platform to engage the public.

Many in the public will be sympathetic because of empathy for the eco terrorist as they were acting from their consciences and taking every precaution to not cause harm to people. If we compare that the authorities that often use brutal means to put down even peaceful protest (fire hoses, pepper spray) the treatment of eco-terrorists is often worse. Consider the sentencing of eco-terrorists who commit arson and arsonists, terrorism carries a sentence of life in the United Kingdom, arson can range between 2-8 years for simple arson. Simple arson is similar to ecotage in all respects apart from the perpetrators are careful to minimise the risk of injury to people; indeed not a single person has been killed by ecotage. Unlike terrorism the crime committed does not aim to create a climate of fear amongst the populace like terrorism " it seeks to influence the populous revealing and educating the public as to the many atrocities committed against the earth. The nonviolence that is an integral part of eco terrorism might ordinarily classify the act as simple arson with a much reduced penalty (about 20-40 years) this added time is in effect "thought crime" as it does not punish the act itself but the motivation. This unjust punishment delegitimises the government in the eyes of the people who now feel sympathetic towards the eco terrorist. An appearance in court also offers the opportunity to apologise, such an action would further demonstrate the eco "terrorists" pure morals " not being motivated by revenge or jealousy but instead LOVE of the environment and all who make it up. In summary who do you think the public will sympathise with more the multinational executive who doesn"t get his bonus or the eco "terrorist" who is mistreated by the system? This sympathy can only strengthen the environmental movement and amplify the underdog effect.

The trial of eco-terrorists is an excellent media opportunity, during the process the offender can show respect for the rule of law by entering a creative plea like "I plead for the beauty that surrounds us". This turns the court into a forum for the accused to justify their actions while appealing polite and appealing to traditional values. This rationality dispels the stigma of environmentalists being anti-establishment indeed it highlights a link to traditionally conservative values such as preserving the countryside and environmentalism " showing them that they can be part of the movement too. By submitting yourself to the courts you are acknowledging your duties as a citizen under the social contract, this respect for due process will further challenge the assumption that environmentalism is radical and allow them to consider supporting green politicians.

The failure of the recent Copenhagen talks illustrates that without green politicians active in the top polluters we will be able to create effective international agreements to face up to environmental issues Extinction is irreversible; over 135 species are being lost per day in the Amazon alone. Why are these species important? Biodiscovery is a branch of science that finds useful compounds; the destruction of ecosystems such as the rainforest threatens to wipe out these species before we can synthesise new drugs and chemical catalysts. Biodiversity also creates great beauty that is worthy of preserving in and of itself. Need I even mention climate change and the role the rainforest plays in regulating the greenhouse effect? Eco terrorism by informing the populous of environmental threats, by inspiring them to consider green politics, by dispelling the stigma around green politics and creates sympathy for the activist and the cause!

Argument 2. Eco terrorism as a force of market regulation

The state acts to mediate between right claimants in society, if the state is influenced disproportionately by corporate interests and a misinformed electorate it cannot create a just society. Eco terrorism seeks to redress the balance between the property rights of business, animals and people of the future by acting as a vigilante market regulator. The state is not preventing irreversible damage being done to the environment such that future generations cannot continue to profit from it as we have had the opportunity to, as well as preserving their natural heritage witch forms an important part of our culture. Sentient animals also have rights by virtue of experiencing pleasure and pain like us, regardless of whether you accept that we and future generations benefit from having stable ecosystems from which we can extract resources from (for example see overfishing or over farming) and as I mentioned earlier extinction would also prevent biodiscovery from taking place. Hence we have a moral obligation to regulate the market, as the state is incapable of doing this in the short term and because continued environmental damage may be irreversible - the next best thing to state regulation.

Eco terrorism regulates the market by creating fiscal incentives for business to behave in an environmental way, the costs of rebuilding and the loss of profit as well as increases in insurance and security costs that affect the entire industry. I also discussed earlier the effect on public opinion; the act itself (targeted at a specific company) highlights poor practice. Consumers use this information to inform their product choice further incentivising business to behave environmentally. Businesses will be more likely to consider changing practices, especially for companies directly affected by eco terrorism they are likely to use new technologies when they rebuild. Short-term thinking in business inhibits sustainable development by focusing only on profits; eco terrorism forces them to improve environmental policy in the short term once they are forced to do this the benefits become such as positive brand identification that gives the company an advantage over competitors. Indeed this advantage over rivals will prompt them to follow suit. Eco terrorism produces changes in business practices in the short term and challenges them in the long term resulting sustainable developments that benefit all actors.

Thank you for reading.


Thank you to my opponent for providing a well thought out case. In general, I have two main points of constructive argumentation: 1) eco-terrorism further polarizes environmentalism from the populace and 2) eco-terrorism entrenches a system of false charity that protects corporations from critical reform.

But first, some refutation.

His First Argument: Public Opinion
My opponents argument basically boils down to this:

Ecoterrorism --> More Press --> Positive Political action

1) Non-Unique: Look to the framework that I proposed for “justified”. I stated: ”…is justifiable if and only if it achieves the ends which ecoterrorists seek (which would be long term environmental change) uniquely stemming from the acts themselves. The key thing here being uniquely stemming from the act themselves. That is, it is the actions of moderate environmentalists that push for change, not the actual extremists. It’s not clear that ecoterrorism is needed to gain media attention for environmentalism. Sit-ins, marches, and parades can create just as large of a media hoard, especially since they can be performed in large number without the use of violence.

2) False Assumption: My opponent assumes that by simply gaining more press, environmentalists will be able to now talk about the real issues of environmentalism and the affects that big businesses have on the environment. This is wrong. Media outlets rarely make distinctions between groups when such an event occurs. Especially given the nation’s history with terrorism, media outlets such as CNN and Fox News tend to categorize entire groups as terrorists when events like this occur. Never does an act of violence allow moderate groups to voice rational opinions. Take for example the 9/11 attacks. Although the attacks were committed by a group of radical Muslims, every Muslim suffered from suspicion and prejudice due to media conflation.

3) No Link: After an extremist attack, companies are actually incentivized to lobby for harsher enforcement and laws against ecoterrorism. Because the companies are legally the victims, they get legal and political leverage to pass more laws. Look to the Patriot Act. Congress lobbied for harsher laws and we went to war, we didn’t pass laws to examine how our foreign policies germinated extremism in the first place.

4) Turn: This actually harms your argument because instead of people seeking environmentalist material, they will categorize all environmentalism as extremism. More on this in my constructive. Additionally, trials will be bad for the environmentalists because A) Ecoterrorists never show remorse B) The Eecoterrorists are guilty of breaking the law which means that C) The media will shroud the trial with negative characterizations of environmentalists because it sells.

His Second Argument: Eco-Terrorism as a Force of Market Regulation

This argument makes a lot of unfounded claims but I’ll try to simplify it as much as I can. He argues basically that ecoterrorism causes property damage, therefore companies have an incentive to create more sustainable practices. This is wrong for 2 reasons: 1) The cost of sustainability will always be greater than the cost of a couple hippies burning a tractor and 2) ecoterrorist events are so rare that insurance costs usually never rise after such an event occurs. Additionally, look to my refutation of his first argument. Ecoterrorism helps push through legislation for harsher policing and laws, meaning the corporations get to cut security and insurance costs because organizations like the FBI and CIA get involved and crack down on ecoterrorist groups more often, meaning that corporations get a larger share of public money for protection.

Now onto my Constructive Points

Contention One: Alienation of the Populace

I already covered a lot of this in my refutation to my opponents first point. My basic premise here is that after an extremist attack, the populace that the ecoterrorists wish to seek are often alienated from environmentalism because of the attack. In fact, the reason that so many environmentalists deplore extremist attacks is because they know that it sets back the green agenda because now they become grouped with these sects. Look again to my example about Islam, the general populace don’t usually grant the benefit of the doubt. This actually polarizes the issues and places corporations as the victims (because they literally are).

Whether ecoterrorism or any other form of violence, the FBI and CIA aren’t allowed to delineate between these types of threats when it comes to enforcement. In the end, this polarization leads to less discourse because polarization leads to labeling and generalization. When ecoterrorist crimes rise, FBI and CIA are actually harsher on the average environmentalist protestor because they now have justification to believe that environmentalists bomb places. In the end, the people that end up winning are the corporations that are harming the Earth, and the people who are hurt are the people who are trying to create real change through non-violent means.

The basic tagline: Extremism hurts the credibility of the entire group. Regular environmentalists get treated with more suspicion, and less actual discourse occurs.

Contention Two: Extremism allows Corporations to fill the Middle ground, leading to more exploitation and less inquiry.

Based on my first argument, we know that when an extremist action likes ecoterrorism occurs, it creates polarization. Regular, moderate environmentalists get grouped with extremists and their cause loses credibility. When these academic environmentalists get pushed out of the middle ground, it creates a space for corporations to begin to fill the moderate sphere. We see this today with corporations like Starbucks and TOM’s shoes. Once companies have been victimized, they want to prove that they are somewhat innocent to the public sphere, so they begin to commit some minor changes in their campaign. An ecoterrorist attack presents corporations with an opportunity to exploit the extremism to make additional profit. In these cases, this does not present itself as true, authentic change in the practices of the corporation. Instead, the corporations encourage consumerism by including false environmentalism within the consumerism.

The harm of this exploitation is twofold. First, it encourages additional consumerism as a means to solve the problems that consumerism creates. Consumerism and the culture of capitalism is the reason that corporations are destroying the Earth and polluting the biosphere. The reason that companies exploit the Earth in the first place is because there is demand. Unfortunately, the reason that there isn’t any systematic change is because people don’t like to be told that their actions are wrong. So, companies provide a “middle ground” where you can consume, but feel good about it! Unfortunately, this is like selling concrete to the people who’s house you just destroyed. It’s not real change or help, it is merely solving the conditions that consumerism created in the first place. Second, this false charity actually drives attention away from real change because now individuals can feel like they have played their part for the environment without actually changing their habits. Additionally, people are no longer interested in assuring that the companies actually stop the exploitative pracitces that caused the problem in the first place. As long as the company promises to "recycle" consumers feel like they have helped even though they haven't inquired to see of the company is actually exploiting slave labor or other forms of unethical business practices.

Watch this video by Slavoj Zizek where he explains how this works. He talks more about poverty, but it works the same way with environmentalism.

In the end, I have turned all of my opponents case and shown how ecoterrorism does not acheive change.

Vote Con.

Debate Round No. 2


Militant_Pacifist forfeited this round.


This is quite unfortunate. I believe in fair debate so I will simply call to extend my arguments and my refutation. Vote Con.
Debate Round No. 3


Militant_Pacifist forfeited this round.


Another FF. Extend my arguments and refutation.
Debate Round No. 4


Militant_Pacifist forfeited this round.


This has been an unfortunate turn of events. My opponent has conceded all my argumentation and refutation. Vote con, ecoterrorism is not justifiable.
Debate Round No. 5
6 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 6 records.
Posted by campbellp10 3 years ago
And yes, debating should be fun. I wasn't trying to get into a technical debate, just another argument that I was throwing out there. I'm not expecting you to feel like it's a "lose all" argument or anything for me. If you feel it's not a very good argument, you don't have to spend time on it if you feel like there is no debate there (just as in BP).
Posted by campbellp10 3 years ago
This wikipedia page is very good (surprisingly) at explaining uniqueness.
Posted by campbellp10 3 years ago
Uniqueness does in fact mean only one of its kind, but when you are comparing impacts, uniqueness means that a specific impact occurs "uniquely" because the specific action (ecoterrorism) occurs.

I am also a BP debater so I know exactly what you mean, but I also come from a policy background and I think that uniqueness is something fantastic that BP usually omits.

Uniqueness is the argument that "x will only occur if Y happens"
So when I say "non-unique" I am saying that "you plan (ecoterrorism) doesn't actually bring anything new to the table. Environmental change can occur outside of your plan (in things like Greenpeace).

It is also an argument against impact grabbing. If it were the case that right after an ecoterrorist attack occured, Greenpeace was suddenly formed then you could claim the impacts of Ecoterrorism.

However, I am arguing that the only thing that ecoterrorism does is create more publicity. The actual legislation occurs because of Greenpeace, which wouldn't necessarily need ecoterrorism (especially since they deplore such actions). So the only impact that you can claim is more publicity, not the actual long term legislation.

Although, this was really just one of many arguments, it wasn't like a topicality violation. You can argue that you are unique (which I completely expected, it would be the proper response) and we can continue to debate whether you are unique or not.

For example "I feel that a positive change in public opinion (that cannot be achieved by another means) that is shown to stem in some way from eco terrorism (and not just directly as you have it) can justify the action."--that is basically a uniqueness argument.

In other words, we don't need to redefine uniqueness or justified, you can just argue that you are unique.

Hope this clears things up.
Posted by Militant_Pacifist 3 years ago
It appears we disagree over the definition of unique?

1. Being the only one of its kind: the unique existing example of Donne's handwriting.
2. Without an equal or equivalent; unparalleled.
a. Characteristic of a particular category, condition, or locality: a problem unique to coastal areas.
b. Informal Unusual; extraordinary: spoke with a unique accent.

I feel that a positive change in public opinion (that cannot be achieved by another means) that is shown to stem in some way from eco terrorism (and not just directly as you have it) can justify the action.
If that doesn"t convince you I move the definition of justification is made
"Is a good reason for" and we allow judges to weight up - similar to BP debating where I"m from. Where it works and debating can go ahead and be enjoyable without getting bogged now in boring definitions that"s clear to us anyway.

cos debating is for fun right?
Posted by Militant_Pacifist 3 years ago
I agree to that deffinition of justified, I apologise for my oversight and thank the member for his clarification.
Posted by campbellp10 3 years ago
Note: My justice criteria is not an argument, I am simply attempting to set forth definitions and framework.
2 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 2 records.
Vote Placed by Valladarex 3 years ago
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Reasons for voting decision: Forfeit, and I applaud con's good arguments.
Vote Placed by airmax1227 3 years ago
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Reasons for voting decision: FF