A unique feature of this excerpt of climate change and society is that it starts every subsection with a new term. Each of these terms is made up of words that I have heard before, but my in-depth understanding of the definition of each varied significantly. While some combinations were intuitive, like environmental colonialism, some were much harder to grasp and I felt a loss of specific definition. Some of the more challenging terms included approximately 12 different types of justice. I don’t mean to criticise the writing style of the piece so much as simply expressing a central feature of my experience reading it. I think that the development of these terms is a useful step in the process of expanding the conversation about these topics in our culture, but I feel that I was quite bogged down in my process of trying to grasp the message of the piece.
The thesis of this chapter is, one, that dominant, Western (colonialist) culture has caused irreparable, long lasting, and self sustaining damage to indigenous cultures by means of environmental damage. And, two, that this is uniquely bad because the means to get human kind out of this crisis is deeply interconnected with the very cultures the crisis is disproportionately harming. The first point alone is already a terrible injustice that should be addressed, but it provides no incentive for a self interested culture to make a change. Those with compassion will want change immediately, but if compassion is lacking or one’s own strife is too dominant to allow sufficient compassion, the first point will be unconvincing.
The approach to solving our climate crisis in the western world has been largely based in technology. The sustainable future that many envisioned was one of solar powered technological advancement. The concept of coexisting with nature is one that is notably absent from these concepts of the future. This cultural vision combined with a (at best) condescending attitude toward indigenous people all around the world has blinded us from acknowledging the value of indigenous cultures in the process of fixing our ecological disaster. The attitude of colonialism that says having the biggest empire automatically means your ideologies are right has caused catastrophe.