“Humans are killing the planet.”
How many times have you heard that? How many times have you said it?
I know that I often have.
I was recently struck by a powerful challenge to that assertion. Who exactly is killing the planet and why are we all taking the blame for it?
I acknowledge that all of us in the “rich” world benefit from the comforts of an eco-cidal economy. And that this is increasingly true in rapidly industrializing nations. But it is not humans that are killing the planet. It is an ideology.
The planet is being decimated by an industrial, extractive ideology that is also imperialistic. It seeks to organize the whole world around greed, unsustainable “growth,” a global finance casino, and corporate oligarchy dominated by 1% of the population.
SOME humans are killing the planet. They are making us in their image. We are complicit because it is more comfortable to be complicit, and the poor are complicit because it’s their only choice.
Ta-Nehisi Coates refers to these humans as “dreamers,” and he connects their ideology to the same ideology that makes slavery possible. It is all part of the same imperialist thread. And it is our role to undo it.
Once, the Dream’s parameters were caged by technology and by the limits of horsepower and wind. But the Dreamers have improved themselves, and the damming of seas for voltage, the extraction of coal, the transmuting of oil into food, have enabled an expansion in plunder with no known precedent. And this revolution has freed the Dreamers to plunder not just the bodies of humans but the body of the Earth itself. The Earth is not our creation. It has no respect for us. It has no use for us. And its vengeance is not the fire in the cities but the fire in the sky. Something more fierce than Marcus Garvey is riding on the whirlwind. Something more awful than all our African ancestors is rising with the seas.
Our species risks its own extinction. But it is not our humanity that has brought us to the brink. Empire is the culprit. We know other ways to live.