Way Beyond the Lifeboat: An Indigenous Allegory of Climate Justice
Forthcoming. Climate Futures: Reimagining Global Climate Justice (University of California Press), edited by Debashish Munshi, Kum-Kum Bhavnani, John Foran, and Priya Kurian.
8 Pages Posted: 24 Jul 2017 Last revised: 25 Jul 2017
Date Written: July 17, 2017
In my experiences, most Indigenous peoples have complicated stories to tell about anthropogenic climate change that often start with their being harmed by fossil fuel industries. The stories continue on to discuss how current laws and policies render them more vulnerable to climate change impacts. Climate injustice against Indigenous peoples is insidious, as it involves years of coupled colonial and capitalist domination. Is there a succinct way to convey an Indigenous perspective on climate justice that makes the connections between capitalism and industrialization and colonialism? This short essay uses a story of vessels, in allegorical form, to describe the complexity of Indigenous climate justice. The allegory seeks to convey how in the absence of a concern for addressing colonialism, climate justice advocates do not really propose solutions to climate change that are that much better for Indigenous well-being than the proposed inaction of even the most strident climate change deniers. Decolonization and anti-colonialism, understood in senses appropriate to the allegory, cannot be disaggregated from climate justice for Indigenous peoples. Indigenous climate justice movements are distinct in their putting the nexus of colonialism, capitalism and industrialization at the vanguard of their aspirations.
Keywords: climate justice, indigenous peoples, environmental justice, resilience, sustainability, lifeboat ethics
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