Fourth World nations in the United States, Canada and throughout the Americas have often sounded the alarm about industrial waste, pollution of the environment and the need to slow demand for petroleum, electricity and coal. Why have nations indigenous to the Americas been so persistent in their calls for slowing the process of growth? Every year that industrial and now information-based economies grow in their demands, they push deeper into Fourth World territories causing environmental damage, disrupting traditional societies, introducing violent conflict while further attempting to marginalize native peoples. Human survival is the concern and has been the concern all along.
Despite persistent efforts to resist development growth, native peoples have generally been unsuccessful. Greed and unrelenting demands for more and more metal ores, petroleum, forests and water to feed the explosive production of consumer goods now threaten all of human, plant and animal survival due to over production of carbon emissions into the atmosphere. The earth simply cannot absorb all of the excess carbon. Now the oceans are increasingly acidified causing dramatic changes in the plant and animal life of the seas. Populations of jelly fish in the Atlantic and in the Mediterranean Sea are rapidly growing in part due to overfishing the very species that eat jelly fish. Oolichan (smelts) on the Pacific coasts of Canada and the US have nearly disappeared and Salmon runs are significantly depleted. There are dead zones in the ocean where all oxygen has been taken from the water.
Had the greedy listened and responded to the Fourth World over the last fifty years, the world would not now be in its present fix. Energy demands are replaced by still greater energy demands even as others have joined Fourth World nations sounding the alarm. Many political leaders say the solution to present day high prices for petroleum is: Drill more holes. Such nonsense! The solution to higher prices is a rapid decline in petroleum use and a more frugal approach to living.
Failure to shift gears quickly will result in forced conservation by draconian means. Perpetual growth is impossible and on the face of it a ridiculous idea. The earth will simply turn on humanity and say: “Enough is enough! What you are doing is not sustainable. If you will not chose to stop, I shall force you to stop!”
Rationing by governments will soon become the norm unless immediate stops are placed on carbon-based energy production. The next step will have to be draconian measures that prevent usage–probably by the poor first–of carbon-based energy sources. The age of carbon-based energy is over. The sooner the world makes a consensus the less harsh will be the transitional remedy.
(c) 2008 Center for World Indigenous Studies
The library is dedicated to the memory of Secwepemc Chief George Manuel (1921-1989), to the nations of the Fourth World and to the elders and generations to come.access here