I am reading a book entitled, “Unworthy Republic” by  Claudio Saunt, with the subtitle, The Dispossession of Native Americans and the Road to Indian Territory (2020).  A well-documented book that provides a different story of the conquest and colonization of the North American continent, a story of theft, violence, politics, and bureaucratic smokescreens as a means to justify, and legitimize mass deportation of original inhabitants, and taking possession of their land and homes. I am not sure what is most disturbing, but maybe it is this method of legalizing atrocious behavior, laws through which robbery and disrespect became defined as a service, an act of kindness. Making empty promises. A story that continues until today. 

Robbing people of their livelihoods and resources. It is something many of us engage in, often with the law on our side. Maybe not as instigator, but as part of a system that allows such behavior to continue on a global scale. 

Think global, act local sounds like a motto to address such behavior. It is something I take seriously, and which I interpret as to mean to be aware of the global problematic trends and to undertake local measures to correct these trends for the better. Think twice; is my interpretation universal? Maybe in the circles I mostly move, but I realize this is just an assumption. It can easily mean the opposite, Act local, like you’ve always done, and divert any problems onto the global scene, preferably not too loudly.  We call it trade, not always legal initially, but rules can be made and bent. Enter carbon-trade and land-grabbing.

Resource Exploitation is your problem too!

Kyoto 1997, some 180 countries signed the protocol that calls for the 38 industrialized countries to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions. Act local? The Protocol is a scheme that includes global carbon trading, because the task of reducing carbon is considered a collective (global) responsibility.  Environmental brokers enter the trade market, scouring for carbon assets,“environmental services”, forested areas, tree-planting projects that can help off-set emissions by their clients. 

Although it seems that this can help reduce emissions globally, while at the same time supporting sustainable development in poor countries (World Bank), a win-win, it has a dark side. Planting fast-growing eucalyptus trees with EU support in Sicily, is not a good thing. Removing Indigenous peoples from their land, in order to create a nature reserve is even worse. And in order to continue for instance their highly polluting meat and dairy production at home, many industrialized countries grow their animal feed elsewhere, the Global South, where local populations pay the price of emission. Many of these lands are cultivated through complex trade and investment rules and regulation that are far from fair, as ‘license to grab’ And these practitioners are not your regular thugs, these are established firms, governments, and the like.

The story continues, different rules, but the plot is remarkably similar. Maybe we finally confront our Colonial pasts, Imperialism, however, is here to stay. Think local, think for yourself and ACT.