A Macro Historical Overview

Colonialism, Capitalism, Patriarchy, and Development

Take a look around you. Everything you see, touch and feel came from the Earth. The table was cut down or mined, the lamp was woven and mined, the building you are in was constructed with materials from the Earth, your phone was mined and constructed from minerals and fossil fuels. Literally everything has been made based on transforming the Earth. All of these materials were transformed through labor processes and turned into commodities to be bought and sold in a capitalist economic system that mandates profit and accumulation for the wealthy and waste and inequality for the poor. This macro system has a relatively short history arising globally after colonialism, and later the Industrial Revolution.

Based on capitalism’s need to constantly expand, we understand that climate change is the result of an economic system that allows excess greenhouse gas emissions from burning fossil fuels and other wastes to dangerously build up. These emissions create a toxic cushion around the Earth and cause overall warming leading to many dire consequences for human and non-human nature. The impacts of mining, extraction, fracking, deforestation, to name a few, are inherently linked to climate change. These operations cause damage at the extraction site impacting local communities and nature. In addition, the manufacturing, shipping, waste and emissions produced from fossil fuels cause extensive damage to the atmosphere. In this way, resistance against extraction is also resistance to climate change.

As climate change increasingly becomes more urgent, it also becomes increasingly more politicized. Business and political leaders concerned with the image of capitalism have made every effort to fold climate change solutions into capitalist solutions. Yet, the heart of the problem stems from an economic system that cannot be used to stop the problem it has created. The two are a cause (extraction, burning, waste, deforestation) and effect (climate change) relationship. Creating two causes just creates more effects.

Carbon pricing is about trade regimes and maintaining a neoliberal capitalist economy and not about cutting emissions at source.

There is no doubt that the planet is changing. For Indigenous Peoples, there is a deep understanding that the dominant economy, the capitalist system, has exploited and abused nature pushing the planet, Mother Earth, to its limits – to a limit so dangerous for life to continue that fundamental changes in the climate are well underway. The current dominant economy fails to sustain and regenerate life because it is built on flawed foundations of endless industrial extraction and pollution of natural systems and functions. Nature is continually privatized and commodified into corporate property.

Unfortunately, governments are on the wrong track because they seek economic solutions to address climate change with new derivative markets, green bonds, cap and trade systems and other forms of false solutions that increase inequality and expedite the destruction of ecosystems. We reject the prevailing worldview that places humans above nature, and with dominion over nature (anthropocentrism). A worldview and economic system that demands expansion, consumption, profit and economic growth above all other values, without recognition of the metabolism of the planet, ecosystems and nature. All of this is based on moving nature through an economic system historically based on economic and social inequalities.

Nation-states are implementing mechanisms that give way to the financialization of nature process and the green economy that separates and quantifies the Earth’s cycles and functions – such as carbon, water, forests, fauna and biodiversity – and turns them into “units” to be sold in financial and speculative markets. The many false solutions that form part of the 2015 UN global climate deal called the Paris Agreement are linked to the free-market economy emerging under the rubric of carbon pricing that includes: carbon trading, carbon offsets, forest offsets and conservation bond programs, payments for ecological services, and carbon taxes – all to allow polluters to profit while the impacts of climate change and the livelihoods worsen for the majority of the people on the planet who are not the wealthy elite, including: Indigenous Peoples, small farmers, forest dependent communities, coastal communities, working people and People of Color communities.

Take a look around you. Everything you see, touch and feel came from the Earth.

Through this process of commodifying nature, Mother Earth’s ability and capacity to support a climate conducive to life and human societies is now passing into the same corporate hands that are destroying the climate and magnifying social inequities, especially in the global South. A fundamental problem of carbon pricing is its tendency to perpetuate and aggravate these environmental injustices. Carbon pricing is about trade regimes and maintaining a neoliberal capitalist economy and not about cutting emissions at source.

Workshop Sessions

Popular education activity guides for workshops and courses

Climate Justice and Resistances: Historical Timeline

Climate Justice and Resistances: Historical Timeline

Time: 30 - 60 minutes Learning Style: Visual, oral, auditory, group-buildingObjective: To create a visual display of historic moments that have led to climate change and events of resistance. Instructions: Together, the group creates a climate justice timeline with...

Land (Earth), Air, Water or Fire

Land (Earth), Air, Water or Fire

Time:- In the first session, the first group activity will last about 45-60 minutes. - The small group activity takes about another 45-60 minutes.- As a stand alone: 45-60 minutes (20 minutes for small group and 25 for feedback). Learning Style: Small group activity,...

Collective Definitions

Collective Definitions

Time: 1 - 2 Hours Learning Style: Potentially all stylesObjective: To work towards a group understanding of what the words colonialism, capitalism, patriarchy and development mean to each other. Intentions: The words have power and history. They frame the workshop in...

Contact Info

Email: CO2colonialism

For further contact information, link.


Produced By

Share This