by Vagner Castilho,
In 2011 oil rich Libya was invaded by NATO, ostensibly on humanitarian grounds, a claim which according to a British House of Commons report was “not based on accurate information”. The report went on to state “that the threat to civilians was overstated”. Libya, once one of the most advanced countries in Africa, crumbled and is now considered a failed state. Fast forward to 2023 and we once again find Libya in the news where flooding, exacerbated by climate change, and the ensuing collapse of 2 dams, recently killed thousands, adding unimaginable horror to an already devastated country. Work on the dams which had commenced in 2007, abruptly ended after NATO’s invasion.
Libya’s fate parallels that of multiple oil and resource rich regions that the west routinely destroys, with millions of dead estimated in post 9-11 US/Nato counter-terrorist wars. While racist attitudes about endemic African corruption persist, it is clear that much of Africa and many other resource rich former European colonies, continue to be exploited and interfered with for the enrichment of powerful nations, including Canada. Under the guise of humanitarianism and enabled by mass western propaganda, the West’s centuries long criminal usurpation of wealth through the exploitation/destruction of the earth and its people continues unabated and mostly uncontested.
As we exit the warmest summer (Northern Hemisphere) ever recorded, memorable for the multiple extreme weather events and disasters, we are left to contemplate what is to come. For decades climate scientists have been attempting to warn humanity, using increasingly urgent language, that our way of life is destroying our only home with the inevitable outcome of “global systemic collapse” and a “ghastly future of mass extinction” becoming increasingly likely. Those messages, corroborated by real world experiences, are getting harder to ignore. Neither the “final warning” issued by the IPCC earlier this year calling for “rapid”, “deep” and “immediate” reductions in greenhouse gas emissions nor the UNEP’s conclusions that “only an urgent system-wide transformation can avoid climate disaster.” appear to have derailed the status quo and rapid trajectory towards climate chaos. This is indeed bad news and worth considering for those who share a common desire to see a just and liveable world for future generations.
Record profits for the fossil fuel industry in 2022, including here in Canada, demonstrate clearly how impotent western ‘democracy’ is when confronted with corporate power. Not even the 2019 global climate strikes which saw millions of people around the world take to the streets demanding action, disrupted the cozy relationship elected officials enjoy with powerful elites and enterprise. As global activists desperately step up their efforts to affect meaningful change, so have ‘democracies’ sought to criminalize and eliminate dissent, a chilling development usually associated with authoritarian regimes. Those who successfully dare to challenge and expose state and corporate criminality are smeared, de-platformed, exiled, imprisoned and more*.
But there are signs that the public is stirring with distrust in politicians and the media growing every year. More and more are connecting the dots and questioning dominant media narratives that up to now have successfully kept the public divided and ill equipped to challenge establishment power.
In 2019 a grassroots coalition of scientists, labour unions, indigenous and youth launched the Pact for a Green New Deal, an idea supported by the majority of Canadians familiar with it, demanding massive public spending to achieve transformative change, and “the rapid, far reaching and unprecedented changes in all aspects of society” the IPCC says is needed to avert climate disaster. 150 Green New Deal town halls were organised around the country including here in Wakefield, hosted by the Transition Écologique La Peche Coalition for a Green New Deal. Shortly afterwards, Covid arrived and the progress and in-roads the environment and justice movement had made in engaging the public seemed to disappear overnight.
The Green New Deal, which never gained political or media attention despite its popularity, faded and was soon replaced by Just Transition language. Many, recognising Covid as a symptom of a society at a crossroads facing a host of intersecting crises, were willing to explore the moment and re-evaluate how we live. Like the Green New Deal, a Just Transition was initially very popular amongst the majority of Canadians. Unlike its predecessor, it did gain some traction in government and the media, but soon lost favour and has since been replaced by “sustainable jobs” legislation. The co-opting of language and ideas is unsurprising. The outcome, business as usual, equally so.
The good news, often hard to find, is that the public, including many of our youth, are angry and hungry for real change. The systemic change required to satiate that hunger is in our hands. The antidote to corporate power will and can only be people power. It will require us coming together and finding solidarity and commonality with others and using our shared empathy, compassion, wisdom and collective resources to participate in the building of the kind of world we would feel proud to leave to those we have brought into it. It will be a monumental task, but well worth the rewards.
*This is a crucial issue. The crushing of dissent is sometimes subtle, and sometimes not, newsworthy when our enemies perform it, but out of the public eye when perpetrated by us.
** The Coalition was formed in 2019 and continues to seek new members. If you are interested in learning more and/or getting involved contact us at email@example.com