Know the dude in the beard? Not many do, but he was one of the most notorious European White mass-murderers ever.
Climate change has deep, empirical, colonial and racist roots. Not only now as those who did least to make this happen suffer the most economically and within their environment, but in history.
500 years of colonialism, of rape, plunder and grabbing resources can be traced directly back from today’s corporations, to colonial rule, to empire and to the original traders, travellers and ‘discoverers’ of new Worlds.
King Leopold II of Belgium had a problem. He wanted an empire but all that was left was the centre of the continent of Africa. He grabbed what is now the Democratic Republic of Congo for his own. Not as a colony but as his own, private land.
From 1884 he ruthlessly exploited the area and its inhabitants to extract rubber. Over 10,000,000 people died until the Belgium’s left in 1960. Companies such as Nokia which started as rubber growers still exist today.
Much of our history is caught up with the slave trade, with over 12,000,000 people kidnapped and enslaved from 1619 in the American plantations. The wealth produced fed the British industrial revolution and built the cities and economy we enjoy today. Many of the biggest slavers are celebrated on our street names and buildings.
This exploitation of people and planet continues with major corporations extracting what they need, externalising costs like pollution, and being led by profit in a broken system that leaves the planet gasping for air.
It is a direct line. Slavery exists still, the resource rich countries like DRC are still economically poor, and the main beneficiaries of a system which impacts our World so much, remain the same group of predominantly white, European men.
To understand where environmental and human exploitation came from and that the system still exists, is to better understand why the same exploitative countries still refuse to make reparations or own the historic damage and emissions they have caused.
Now we have this information, how do we use it?