What does colonialism have to do with the climate crisis? Actually, quite a lot. European colonizers changed the environment of the Americas, causing manmade climate change.
Colonialism: “Control by one power over a dependent area or people."
When they colonized the Americas, Europeans…
...brought invasive plants. They forced Indigenous people into slavery and made them grow cash crops. Not only did this practice kill species of native plants, but it also established a racial hierarchy that put Indigenous people below Europeans.
...killed indigenous species. Colonizers, and later US pioneers, killed almost the entire buffalo population in the American West. Indigenous people relied on buffalo for centuries before colonization. Fewer buffalo means more small game, which means fewer native plants.
...disrespected nature. Indigenous people lived in harmony with the ecosystem and thrived for millennia by respecting Mother Earth. Europeans managed to destroy that ecosystem (and 99% of the people living in it) in just a couple hundred years. “With colonialism came the idea that everything on this earth is made for our extraction and that everything is to be bought and sold. We see this in the arrival of European colonizers to the Americas, where the land, water and other natural resources were stolen and abused” (Jamie Margolin).
...created oppressive systems. Colonialism introduced systems of oppression based on race, economic class, and gender that are still integrated into our systems today. Oppressed peoples are more impacted by the climate crisis and have fewer resources to protect themselves from it.
"I'm Not Only Striking for the Climate" by Jamie Margolin.
"Colonialism, Climate Change and the Caper of Coopted Culture" by Timothy Harris.
It was 60 degrees in Denver yesterday. What does that mean?
Although it was awesome to be able to go outside in a t-shirt, this weather indicates a trend that could have serious effects unless we deal with it. Obviously, climate change has caused winters to be warmer. 2020 tied for the warmest year on record, and the planet is only getting warmer. That means that there will be fewer and fewer snows. 70% of Colorado's water comes from snowmelt. When there is less snow, the Colorado River is drier than it should be, and the millions of people who depend on the river for their water supply face a water shortage.
What can you do?
Reduce your individual carbon footprint. Check out some of our challenges for ideas and tips.
Contact your legislators and ask them to make climate action a priority.