Climate change, the Arctic and the colonial imagination

There is a certain North American arrogance that our 'first world' privilege will buffer us from the effects of climate change, that ‘other' countries such as Bangladesh or small island nations such as the Marshall Islands will take the brunt of such climate change consequences such as a warming planet or rising sea levels.

In this way, we have ‘othered’ the experience of climate change. Here in Toronto, we joke about our new mild winters and lament that children no longer get to skip class because of snow days.

Outside of North America, it is Indigenous, non-white and non-Western other that will burn or drown, to the point that effected nations are seeking to use the law to get the attention of the developing world.

Small island nations plead for world’s attention

On February 3, 2012, at the United Nations, small island states such as Grenada and Palau joined together to seek an advisory opinion from the International Court of Justice regarding the potential damages resulting from climate change.

Stuart Beck, Palau’s Permanent Representative to UN, in response to concerns from members about the differing awareness levels regarding climate change and the discrepancies in concern between developing and developed nations, described the effects already seen in Palau. He went on to question the response from the United States if flooding was occurring in Manhattan instead.

President Johnson Toribiong of Palau warned other UN member states, “Within a generation, rising seas threaten to swallow entire countries along with their unique histories, languages and cultures”.

Leaders from countries impacted by climate change went on to warn that the changes in the Pacific would accelerate the “cascading effect” of climate change all over the world. But who is listening?

FULL ARTICLE: Climate change, the Arctic and the colonial imagination.

About Kurly Tlapoyawa (1010 Articles)

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