Climate Change — A Consequence of Colonialism

How history seeps into the present

Urban landscape juxtaposition of rich high-rises against poor dwellings.

Image by Shelly Paul, Flickr

It was inspiring to see the young people take to the streets on behalf of Mother Earth, demanding that their governments act swiftly to remedy the situation, so that they can have a future.

A lot of these governments especially in the impoverished countries are corrupt, greedy and violent. How can anyone expect these government to properly formulate and implement the right reforms? Most importantly, how did these governments get to be this way?

Most of Africa, Asia and Americas were colonized by Europeans for several centuries. These colonizations came at a cost of bottomless cruelty and bloodshed of the native population. These natives were not just plundered and killed for their material wealth, but most significantly, they were robbed off the priceless knowledge of their heritage and culture, through decimation of their languages, religions and customs.

The colonials mindlessly eradicated indigenous knowledge, because of their solipsistic arrogance. It didn’t even occur to those colonials, that the natives who had survived for centuries, might have deep knowledge that shallow, greedy, barbarians like themselves, could not have possessed.

Most ancient cultures were aware that their way of life was possible only by exploiting natural resources. They did that with reverence and fear of Mother Nature, abiding by Her rules and living in Her rhythm of balance and harmony. It was the colonials who taught these populations, that Mother Nature doesn’t have to be feared or revered, that ‘MAN’ is the superior being and therefore, we can exploit this planet as much as we want. That mentality is what got us to this crisis point, where we as a species, have become anathema to this planet.

The colonizers implemented their avarice through the science of industrialization. They implemented industrialization through grand corruption and exploitation of the native population, by positioning native thugs and strongmen in places of power, so that the colonials can keep the native population as quasi-slaves and have them exploit their own natural resources to the point of utter destruction.

This system of detrimental corrosion of human societies still continues in many parts of the world.

So, how are the young leaders of climate change going to address this urgent issue of Global Warming, without addressing the more pressing human issues that contributes to it? How are they going to tell the poor farmer with a family to feed, not to burn down the forest for land cultivation, because it aggravates global warming? How are they going to tell the animal poacher who can drive an entire species into extinction that he cannot do that, when all he is trying to do, is provide for himself and his family.

Watching the television coverage of the climate protests, it seemed to me like a much diluted version of colonialism, even though, unlike their ancestors, the intentions of these young people are earnest and their cause is a real one, but, steeped in the same type of solipsistic ignorance. Skipping school for a day may not be a big deal for the children living in privileged societies, but for many in the impoverished societies, education is the only way out of poverty and all its malaise.

When the protestors make light of skipping school, it sends a wrong message to the children from downtrodden societies, whose everyday lives are burdened with numerous chores and going to school being one among them, cutting into their sparse joys of growing up.

Telling these children that school doesn’t matter, encourages them to skip school altogether which would be fun for now, but their futures could be jeopardized, while the young climate protestors from these rich nations, would continue on with their privileged life perpetuating the cycle of human dysfunction.

If the young climate change protesters are serious about this issue, start by making a real effort in trying to understand the big picture. So, learn your history lessons properly. Understand and examine the reasons of how we got here. If you don’t make an honest effort to understand the human causes contributing to global warming, the solutions you frame will be flawed and even futile.

Try to address perpetual poverty, social inequities, human cruelties and other injustices and around the world, because if you want everyone to co-operate in this truly global problem, you need to be inclusive and bring everyone to your level of knowledge. The way to achieve that, is by addressing the struggles for basic human survival and finding the right solutions. Such an undertaking must be done whole-heartedly, with sincerity and thoughtfulness. It requires boundless patience and magnanimity.

Because imagine, how arrogant would it be to tell a starving person that your future is more important than his current, listless existence?