No ‘We’ Without ‘Them’

Climate change is couched as the fault of “humanity,” a conveniently broad accusation. This skirts the history of industrialization, especially in Africa where, writes Gabrielle Hecht, “both responsibility and vulnerability are unevenly distributed.”

Colonization and mining in Africa fueled global industrialization and left toxic scars that compound with rapid urbanization. Generations after gold mining in South Africa, for example, locals continue to drink and bathe in water noxious from exposed rock and erosion breeds dust that contributes to catastrophic air pollution.

Climate change conversations must acknowledge these and other grim truths. It must also “require thinking from, and with, Africa,” writes Hecht. “There is no planetary ‘we’ without them.”

Aeon
 

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