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Colonialism’s mindset planted the seeds of today’s climate crisis

Summary:
From Jamie Margolin and The Guardian Many people trace the origins of today’s climate crisis to the Industrial Revolution, when humans first began to burn large amounts of coal, but the crisis’s true roots extend further back to the onset of colonialism. When European colonizers ventured to Africa, Asia, North and South America, they invariably plundered the local natural resources, damaged habitats, hunted species to extinction and often forced human inhabitants into slavery. Undergirding European colonialism was the assumption that everything on the earth was meant to be extracted, bought and sold – and to make an elite minority very rich. In the eyes of the colonizers, the “new” lands they encountered had no owners – no one had purchased them with a recognizable currency or could

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from Jamie Margolin and The Guardian

Many people trace the origins of today’s climate crisis to the Industrial Revolution, when humans first began to burn large amounts of coal, but the crisis’s true roots extend further back to the onset of colonialism. When European colonizers ventured to Africa, Asia, North and South America, they invariably plundered the local natural resources, damaged habitats, hunted species to extinction and often forced human inhabitants into slavery. Undergirding European colonialism was the assumption that everything on the earth was meant to be extracted, bought and sold – and to make an elite minority very rich. In the eyes of the colonizers, the “new” lands they encountered had no owners – no one had purchased them with a recognizable currency or could prove ownership with property records – so it was free pickings. Along with this attitude came the idea that nothing – not air, not water, not trees, not animals – was sacred or priceless.

Colonialism’s mindset of heedless extraction, greed and human exploitation not only planted the seeds of today’s climate crisis, it remains visible in the crisis’s central injustice: although the poor are responsible for only a tiny share of humanity’s greenhouse gas emissions, they generally suffer first and worst from the heatwaves, droughts, storms, rising seas and other effects of those emissions.   read more

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