We gnomes always try to protect the natural treasures of Mother Earth. That's what gnomes do. But we're a little and old-fashioned, and our enemies have outgrown us. Many of those who exploit Mother Earth for valuable resources have grown to be such huge, powerful, greedy giants that they can slap aside anyone – even national governments – who try to restrain them. Agencies that were created to regulate them, such as the EPA, have been overwhelmed and neutered by their power.

That's why some of us gnomes have been discussing the need for an International Environmental Court to deal with global crimes against Mother Earth – the really brutal, heinous crimes, which are the moral equivalents of rape and murder. Two that certainly reach that level of depravity are mountaintop removal coal mining and gas fracking.

A form of coal extraction that destroys whole landscapes, and the lives of people who inhabit them, is clearly a crime against Nature. It's hard to imagine anyone soulless enough to think up such a process, let alone do it. It's a kind of criminal fanaticism comparable to that of flying jetliners into skyscrapers. Or even worse: the World Trade Center was made by mere man; God made the mountains. They're sacred.
"The coal executives don't even speak the name of the manmade god they serve: Mammon."
The destruction of those mountains will wreak as much suffering on the humans there as the destruction of 9/11, and on more of them, than were victims in the Towers.

The coal corporation executives, furthermore, don't have the courage to kill themselves in the process, as did the suicide pilots on 9/11. Those pilots believed they were acting in the name of their real god, whom they called Allah. The coal executives don't even speak the name of the manmade god they serve: Mammon.

The crime against Nature called fracking is more subtle than mountain-wrecking, but just as merciless and venal. The word comes from "fracturing," as gas-permeated shale deep underground is pulverized by chemical compounds and pressure to free the gas, which is then pumped to the surface, collected and sold.

To us gnomes, who honor Earth as our mother, this is like cracking your mother's bones for marrow while she's still alive.

It not only hurts Mother Earth, it also has potential to ruin the lives and the health of human inhabitants on the earth's surface.

The energy company executives perpetrating this reckless, destructive process mock anyone who opposes it. They say they have such good safety precautions in place that the toxins they use for shale fracturing will never harm anyone's ground water or get to the surface to pose health threats to people or livestock.

Well, we know about those safety precautions, don't we? Halliburton and all those responsible for the gigantic deepwater oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico couldn't brag enough about their foolproof safeguards – which all failed.
"Landowners who have flammable gas coming out of their kitchen faucets, and cattle falling dead at their watering troughs, have some reason to doubt those assurances from the frackers."
Now landowners who have flammable gas coming out of their kitchen faucets, and cattle falling dead at their watering troughs, have some reason to doubt those assurances from the frackers.

As if the mere idea of blowing up the earth's crust for fun and profit weren't repugnant enough, up pops the name Halliburton as the corporation that developed the process. Any time industrial-strength, international skullduggery and abuse of power and environmental rapine loom up, there is Halliburton. Its most notorious chief executive, Dick Cheney, later used his power as U.S. vice president to exempt frackers from liability for damage they might do. (A cynical gnome might interpret that as evidence the frackers know damn well they'll do harm.)

The frackers also gained the privilege of keeping secret their toxic recipes for subterranean fulmination. That secrecy should help them deny culpability when their toxins start showing up in sick and dead people and animals. So it goes.

Here's one more thing to think about as the frackers press forward to release their promised billions of' cubic feet of unnaturally-obtained natural gas:

Some of the shale deposits are not very far from the Mississippi Valley fault system that gave rise to the greatest earthquake in the Central U.S. in 1811 and could give way at any time. If the flutter of a butterfly's wing can loose a typhoon, as the philosopher said, what might come of pulverizing the geology under the New Madrid Fault System?

Gas fracking and mountaintop-removal coal mining should be declared Crimes against Nature and Humanity now, and there should be a world court with authority to prosecute such crimes, no matter how rich and powerful the perpetrators.

Earth is our true mother. Leave her alone, Motherfrackers.

Gnome de Plume can be reached at .