Most often when I think of the climate crisis and struggles of our contemporary days, I cannot help but envision the grotesque, horribly truthful life of Chinese workers solely focused on repairing, dismantling, and recycling our ‘obsolete’ electronic goods. While there are countless other countries who deal with the e-waste, to see my Chinese people resonates with me to the bone. Being able to be adopted during China’s one child policy gave me the incredible structure of opportunity to grow up in the States.
(Question 1) It’s hard for me to not view it as primarily a structural problem. Taking Rob Nixon’s Slow Violence and the Environmentalism of the Poor into consideration, our waste goes to people who ate stuck in their structure and lack of opportunities to escape the waste produced. I am not going to pretend either that we don’t do this to our own American people— our country relies heavily on its racial hierarchy and it’s easy to find in our constitutions’ history of the three-fifths clause, the Casual Killing Act of 1669, the Chinese railroad men… (Need I say more?) Government decisions, racism, and slave labor so deeply embedded still exist today, but comes under the table through incognito, hidden agenda, and are subliminal to many, and deadly to the mass.
That being said, (Question 2) in the views of heterodox economics— I find it rather convincing to begin to view the majority’s power as the reason for why the state of our climate is what it is today. Africa’s economy and state of climate would not be what it is today without colonialism, and we all must learn to accept and learn from those behaviors in order to additionally see marginalized groups as human. Not only are these groups geographically placed in areas we do not consciously think to see, but are not coincidentally areas where we see people as lesser. Those we continue to keep left in the dark about the way slow violence works will continue to do what they do. There is no way our “feel-good” compostable, biodegradable, “sustainably” sourced means of recycling, especially to corporations, will fix what is being done to our oceans, CO2 emissions, fossil fuel usage, landfills, so on and so forth. Let these people gain power for the right to correctly voice what’s happening and stray us away from “economic friendly” products being a capitalist selling point of produced goods.
(Question 3) I believe we have a long road ahead of ourselves when we want to consider agencies of an individual to be heard—despite how much talent and work ethic, and human labor an individual has, we cannot equate this to guaranteeing such skill will be heard. My optimism goes as far as understanding it’s possible to see everyone as a free people of this country, and to be able to see open-mindedly how corruption of our social, political, and economic system is. However, as it relates to our climate crisis, the damage has been done and written in the books. To be mindful today is to improve tomorrow.