The Threat of Climate Change on Indigenous Peoples

Climate change has become a major topic of interest lately. While the increase in awareness is exciting and overdue, it has left some things to be overlooked. Its widespread discussion has allowed it to become generalized. There are many facets to the issue that is climate change and Robert Melchior Figueroa discusses one of these in Climate Change and Society. In this piece, he discusses the effects of climate change on Indigenous peoples. 

Figueroa touches on the loss of indigenous languages, knowledge, and place. Although these groups of people have been here longer and contribute the least to climate change, they are being affected to a far greater degree. A lot of this is due to displacement. As the consequences become more severe, some indigenous communities have been forced out of their homelands. When they lose these places, which often have strong ties to their culture, they not only lose their home but also a part of their identity. It’s even said that some professionals recognize this as a form of post-traumatic stress disorder. The rate at which this injustice occurs is increasing and has even led to what is being called the Climate refugee. Statistics estimate that by 2060 there could be nearly 200 million people who classify as a climate refugee. 

Restorative justice is proposed as a solution to this problem. To provide a brief definition, restorative justice is the idea that the victims and offenders should be brought together to meet and discuss a resolution. Doing so will allow for the full involvement of the indigenous people in making decisions that affect them directly. Historically, those who determined what would happene with native land disregarded the thoughts of those who originally inhabited the area. Figueroa notes that these attributes are even mirrored within state systems such as the courts.   

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