Climate Justice Is Indigenous Rights


We’ve all seen the apocalyptic images of Sao Paulo’s ashen skies and the extent to which record breaking fires have damaged the lungs of our earth – set ablaze, quite likely, by those empowered by the evil government of Jair Bolsonaro. This is indeed one of the greatest threats to human survival, with the Amazon giving approximately 20% of the world’s oxygen, but there is a side to this that many appear to be setting aside – again.

Amazon from space. Source: NASA Earth Images

We hear about protests often, especially environmentally driven protests in the last couple of years. Recently, we’ve been saturated with stories about the protests in Hong Kong against China’s influence, which has spilled into Australia somewhat. These are absolutely important and deserve the coverage, but there are other protests that receive very little coverage. The voices of Indigenous peoples around the world are kept to the sidelines.

This is not true for all media outlets and articles out there, but despite the strong connection between the two issues, whenever climate protests are reported on, important voices are ignored or drowned out.

In the US, when oil pipelines prone to leaks threatened the landscape and water, native communities in the area led the fight against rich corporations protected by private security forces and police.

In Australia, the Wangan and Jagalingou Family Council, Traditional Owners in the Galilee Basin, have rejected the claims put forward for the Adani coalmine. The Djab Wurrung Embassy has been set up to fight for sacred trees in Victoria, trees that are under threat to make way for a highway – despite available alternatives.

In Brazil, the Indigenous are under attack and under threat as the Amazon, their homes, are burned and overrun to make way for new farmland. The words genocide and ethnic cleansing have been cropping up in the wake of Bolsonaro’s wretched stance on the Indigenous peoples. To him, they are but an obstacle in the path to greed.

The point I’m trying to make here, as some others have too, is that we often see these concerns as separate stories. We are defending Indigenous rights, or we are fighting for the environment. But many of the environmental causes that we support today have been fought for by Indigenous peoples for much longer. Their deep connections with the land they have inhabited for generations upon generations gives them a much greater understanding of the harm we are currently doing to the Earth.

The threat of a +4℃ world is no longer a worst case scenario – it is a frightening and likely possibility based on conservative estimates if we do not drastically reform our environmental policies over the next decade. Predictions that the world will only be able to sustain less than 1 billion people by 2055 should terrify you, and should move you to be involved in climate protests and movements.

We cannot disconnect environmental issues from Indigenous issues – they are the most powerful advocates for the land we have, and we must not silence them any longer. Our lives depend on it.

Good video on this topic and climate philosophy HERE

Liked this? Read There’s No Justice, Only Flames

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