392 online
Most Popular Choices
Share on Facebook 41 Printer Friendly Page More Sharing
OpEdNews Op Eds    H2'ed 9/13/21

Climate activists are being killed for trying to save our planet. There is a way to help

By       (Page 1 of 2 pages)   1 comment

Bill McKibben
Message Bill McKibben
Become a Fan
  (19 fans)

From Guardian

Last year, there were a record 227 killings globally. It is our duty to keep resisting the insatiable forces that led to their deaths

Climate activists bike, walk for climate justice
Climate activists bike, walk for climate justice
(Image by 350.org from flickr)
  Details   DMCA

Each year, we learn more about the climate crisis. The data flows: ever-rising heat, unprecedented deforestation, record rainfall. And once a year, we also learn more about the human impact of the crisis too, as data is released on the killings of land and environmental activists, the very people highlighting and protesting at the breakdown of our climate. As Global Witness' annual report reveals, in 2020, that number rose to a record 227 killings worldwide.

Every time, the data hits me like a blow to the face. I've spent much of my life as an environmental activist and journalist, and so if I haven't actually met the people sadly on this list, I've met hundreds exactly like them. Strong local people, attached to place and community, seeing their role in defending terrain and ancestral territory. Every person like this around the world is at risk.

And they are at risk, in the end, not so much because of another local person who pulls the trigger or plunges the blade; they're at risk because they find themselves living on or near something that some corporation is demanding. Like Fikile Ntshangase, the South African grandmother who led a spirited campaign against a coalmine in KwaZulu-Natal province and was shot dead in her home last year. Or Ã"scar Eyraud Adams, the indigenous activist who, during Mexico's worst drought in 30 years, vocally advocated for his community's right to water, as the authorities denied them and granted corporations ever more permits. Oscar was shot dead in Tecate last September.

The demand for the highest possible profit, the quickest possible timeline, the cheapest possible operation, seems to translate eventually into the understanding, somewhere, that the troublemaker must go. The blame rarely if ever makes its way back up to a corporation's HQ. But it should. Especially since the people who inhabit these places never really share in the riches produced there: colonialism is still running strong, even if it's dressed up with corporate logos or hidden with offshore bank accounts.

Meanwhile, the rest of us need to realize that the people killed each year defending their local places are also defending our shared planet -- in particular our climate. The activities that flood our atmosphere with carbon -- fossil fuel extraction and deforestation -- are at the heart of so many of these killings. When people stand up to block a pipeline, or an illegal mine, or a new plantation slated for an old forest, they are also standing in the way of the activities that threaten us all. They make life harder for the oil companies and the timber barons, and in so doing strive to safeguard all of us from incessant temperature increases. And as we try to head off that rise by moving to more benign technologies, such as solar panels and electric cars, we'll need to do so in ways that don't create the same kind of sad sagas -- cobalt mining or lithium production can be exploitative, too. If we took seriously the stories told in the Global Witness report, we surely would be able to better design these emerging industries.

Next Page  1  |  2

(Note: You can view every article as one long page if you sign up as an Advocate Member, or higher).

Rate It | View Ratings

Bill McKibben Social Media Pages: Facebook page url on login Profile not filled in       Twitter page url on login Profile not filled in       Linkedin page url on login Profile not filled in       Instagram page url on login Profile not filled in

Bill McKibben is the author of a dozen books, including The End of Nature and Deep Economy: The Wealth of Communities and the Durable Future. A former staff writer for The New Yorker, he writes regularly for Harper's, The Atlantic Monthly, and The (more...)
Go To Commenting
The views expressed herein are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of this website or its editors.
Writers Guidelines

Contact AuthorContact Author Contact EditorContact Editor Author PageView Authors' Articles
Support OpEdNews

OpEdNews depends upon can't survive without your help.

If you value this article and the work of OpEdNews, please either Donate or Purchase a premium membership.

If you've enjoyed this, sign up for our daily or weekly newsletter to get lots of great progressive content.
Daily Weekly     OpEd News Newsletter
   (Opens new browser window)

Most Popular Articles by this Author:     (View All Most Popular Articles by this Author)

The Movement to Divest from Fossil Fuels Gains Momentum

We're not even close to being prepared for the rising waters

Idle No More, Think Occupy With Deeper Roots

Why Dakota Is the New Keystone

Why the Planet Is Happy That Bernie Sanders Is Running for President

Global Warming's Terrifying New Math

To View Comments or Join the Conversation:

Tell A Friend