Updated: Mar 18, 2022
Environmental Justice means we tackle the climate crisis and many (if not most) of our social ills in the same go. It means returning land back to tribal nations according to treaty law we (the US) broke. Because 5% of the people on this planet are responsible for protecting 85% of its biodiversity. Give them more land. EJ means supporting farmers globally who live on the land they farm, and feed their communities with the food they grow. This means mostly women farmers of color. Support them, and support policies that mean more joining their ranks. Support a ban on all new fossil fuel extraction, pollution allowances, all new plastic creation, and subsidize companies in hemp and bamboo and recycling technologies that mean we could eliminate the concept of "waste" from society all-together.
White landowners "built" this country and this empire by dispossessing people of the land via genocide and saying 'we own it' using our immoral and violent colonial legal system. It's time to reverse that. Arts invite people to take a look, to dip a toe, to feel and experience things for themselves.
The Gulf Stream is collapsing. Memes of the moment say we're in the "oops" part of saving humanity from the few (Global Oligarchs, we could say), and the more than a few apathetic privileged ostriches. If you're in a comfortable house reading this on your personal laptop or electronic device, chances are you fall into one of those two categories. The first step is to recognize your power in this world. The second step is to recognize this is not a crisis that will be solved by your individual actions like has been sold to us by corporations and celebrities since the 90s. Most of the violence that has led us to this point is due to military, corporate, and military-backed corporate greed expertly exerted around the world. (Hence why this EJ movement is global.) The third step is to get on board with the government-level policy changes that need to happen. Support political candidates who talk about these things. Ask questions of those who are not. Support B corporations and nonprofits with your money. Treat yourself with kindness when you feel like you're not doing enough.
Ultimately this is about changing our culture to one where 'waste' is a dirty word, and a terrible thing to do. Landfills will be relics, a system failure of imagination future generations will laugh about uproariously. We will respect other beings on this planet like we're not the only one of Life's creations that matters. Our policies will reflect our care for the land and complex ecosystems because we recognize we don't know everything. This concept of 'ownership' will ease as we realize that sharing science, technology, money, knowledge, and healthcare make us feel better, more connected, more human.
I believe our society suffers from a lack of connection. The Western Imperial way ensures a few people make enough money through this disconnection to the point where they believe none of this effects them. We've reduced complexity into neat rows that can be counted, measured, sold, and measured again. We've done this to the land, and to people. This is not natural. Our efficiency sacrifices flexibility and adaptability. Ultimately, it sacrifices life. Where do the polluting factories get built? Who is most effected by pollution and plastic waste? Whose air and water and soil qualities are worse? Environmental Justice is the nexus where equality and health meet. It's how you can tackle racism and climate at the same time. It's not a question of one or the other. These issues are fundamentally connected.
We must start thinking this way, imagining society this way: everything is connected. It's not either/or. It is both/and. It's simple, and incredibly complicated. It takes work if you've been raised in settler-colonial traditions to actively rewire your brain in order to make new connections. Spend one minute imagining land without ownership. Imagine nature as your loved one. Imagine a world where caring wasn't considered weakness, or naive. This work takes strength of will and intention. Double down on what you know to be true: 'just the way it is,' or 'just the way it's done' will kill us all. Be strong, care, change, speak up, and act out.
This is a quick, visual piece that really helps one understand the contrast between the Western Way and the Indigenous Way:
Bioneers is an amazing organization, and this piece elaborates on the above:
Things to Google: "Indigenous Led Permaculture" "Black Owned Farms" "Latinx Owned Farms" or "Small-Scale Organic Farms"
Have fun learning!