What is ecocide? Definition, examples and how to avoid it

For several decades now, the planet has gone through countless damages; and this, in turn, leaves very serious consequences. The extinction of a large number of terrestrial and marine species, various types of pollution, deforestation are just some of these. All this is mainly due to ecocide; which is why it is important to know what it is, its definition, examples and, above all, how to avoid it.

Ecocide What is it?

When talking about ecocide, it refers to the massive or systematic destruction and damage of an ecosystem. In most cases, this deterioration is total and puts the life of any living species that is in the place at risk. This type of damage is usually huge, so it can hardly be fixed.

Wherever it is observed, ecocide means death and total ruin of the entire place where it is carried out. In fact, its etymology makes a clear reference to the destruction of an ecosystem and its surroundings, including the species that inhabit it.

The first time the term ecocide was used was in the mid-1970s during the Vietnam War. This conflict led to the use of chemical agents, such as the case of “agent orange” which caused enormous damage to the ecosystem. The consequences of this conflict caused the destruction of forests, water and even the people who inhabited the place were also harmed.

From this conflict, every effort was made to stop and find a solution to ecocide. Therefore, various international courts were created with the aim of condemning any of these actions. Thus, the international community found a way to avoid destruction and irreparable damage to the environment.

Some examples of ecocide

As mentioned, ecocide is synonymous with the destruction of any type of ecosystem. To understand a little better about the damage that this action can cause in the environment, it is best to cover some examples of ecocide.

industrial fishing

This activity has become one of the causes of ecocide in various parts of the world. It is the excessive fishing of various marine species, it is also known as overfishing. Depending on the methods used, it can be even more damaging, destroying the habitat of many species.

oil skids

Oil spills are one of the main causes of the destruction of marine life on the planet. In 2010, one of the most important oil spills occurred in the Deepwater Horizon oil platform. This incident caused an oil slick whose extension reached almost 150 thousand square kilometers. In addition, the contamination on the coast extended to more than 1,700 kilometers, becoming one of the most significant examples of ecocide.

plastic pollution

It is no secret to anyone that the amount of plastic waste has become a big problem. Every day, this waste ends up in the sea, causing a large-scale ecocide affecting the species that make life in the rivers and oceans. In fact, there are floating islands known as plastic islands, made up of thousands of waste discarded by humans.


Extracting minerals and precious stones from the soil is another example of ecocide that is committed the most every year. In recent years, the extraction of precious minerals from the bottom of the sea has become very popular. This causes a negative impact in the area where said extraction takes place, as a consequence an ecocide is generated.


This action not only causes serious damage to biodiversity, it can also change the climate throughout the planet. Especially in areas surrounded by jungles and tropical forests, which maintain very rich and important ecosystems. Ecocide can manifest itself in many ways when it comes to deforestation, however the vast majority are man-made.

Air pollution

Today, large industries emit polluting gases that spread through the air, this seriously affects and damages the ecosystem. On a large scale, it results in a partial or total ecocide not only of the environment but also of the species that inhabit it. In addition, air pollution directly indexes the emission of greenhouse gases.

What are the consequences of ecocide for the planet?

The consequences of ecocide can vary depending on the affected ecosystem, as mentioned in the examples above. However, the main consequence of ecocide is the destruction of the environment and everything around it, so it is important to avoid it.

In history, various environmental catastrophes have occurred that have caused significant alterations. For example, an oil spill in the ocean not only ends with the death of thousands of species of fish. It can also affect birds that go into the water to fish, as they stick to oil slicks.

Also, the landscape changes completely and the worst thing is that in the vast majority of cases, it will never return to normal. Which means that the affected area will be totally deserted and no species will come back to life in that place.

How to avoid ecocide?

Different organizations have spoken out against ecocide, since this act is considered a crime against the planet. The solution to ecocide depends mainly on the prevention and protection of any area where there is biodiversity.

Currently, various important measures and laws have already been established for the protection of the planet. Knowing how to avoid ecocide is essential to maintain the integrity of the environment and thus guarantee life on the planet.

Ecocide has already become an international law that punishes any person and government that causes the destruction of the environment. In fact, in 2002 the International Criminal Court was created with the objective of condemning anyone who commits ecocide.

The persons or entities prosecuted could end up paying a sentence that will depend on the level of damage caused. This is intended to prevent the continuation of such a harmful act for the planet, such as ecocide.


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