Anti-colonial struggle

September 23, 2020

The closely dated murders of George Floyd by a white police officer in Minnesota, of Breonna Taylor by white police officers in Kentucky, of Ahmaud Arbery by a retired cop with white supremacist...

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The closely dated murders of George Floyd by a white police officer in Minnesota, of Breonna Taylor by white police officers in Kentucky, of Ahmaud Arbery by a retired cop with white supremacist ties and his son in Georgia, and of Tony McDade by a white police officer in Florida, all coalesced to reignite the US civil rights movement.

This popular uprising has drastically shifted society at large, as evidenced by public opinion polls which show society-wide support for them, and by the movement’s long list of policy and action achievements thus far. However, the even longer list of Black people killed, or almost killed, by white racists has only continued growing since the protests began.

Meanwhile, the coronavirus pandemic has caused the deaths of nearly one million people worldwide. In the US, the country with the highest levels of confirmed Covid-19 cases and deaths, demographic data shows that the brunt of this burden is being born disproportionately by Black and Indigenous people, as well as non-Black communities of colour, and women in particular.

This pandemic has exposed fundamental differences in how society protects life, from unequal access to services and medical attention, to unequal application of criminal justice and law, and beyond.

Consider the intensifying problem of environmental pollution. A study from the University of Exeter, published in June 2020, found that half of the world's population is exposed to air pollution, which is increasing. Even before the pandemic, it was estimated that nine million people died a year because of air pollution.

You might have guessed that the spread of pollution also has a disproportionate impact on communities of colour, a well-known and documented phenomenon known as ‘environmental racism’. And of course, as if to neatly complete the vicious cycle, air pollution makes people more vulnerable to the effects of contracting Covid-19. These problems feed each other.

As the effects of climate change intensify, the spread of pathogens and viruses will only become more likely. For example, the World Bank estimates that by 2050, 5.2 billion humans will be reckoning with malaria outbreaks. Likewise, industrial agricultural practices, like the vast monoculture plantations that are replacing tropical rainforests at an alarming pace, reducing biodiversity and therefore, making the spread of diseases more likely.

In other words, the risk of new, more frequent, and deadlier pandemics is also growing.

And the planet keeps on warming. Currently, one out of every four species faces extinction, and before the end of this century, Earth might be uninhabitable by large mammals like humans. However, well in advance of that, the indirect escalation towards our extinction will itself be difficult and painful.

Accelerating waves of mass extinctions, soil erosion, droughts, famines, wildfires, infectious diseases adding to already-strained infrastructure, and mounting social instability overall will – or rather, is already and will growingly – make life very volatile, even for the most privileged.

Excerpted from: ‘Why environmental justice is an anti-colonial struggle’

Aljazeera.com



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