Current efforts to use electric vehicles to transition to a “zero-emission” world reduce climate change to an emissions issue, without stopping the extraction and oppression that are the causes of climate change. As CIEJ, we have chosen to align ourselves with Indigenous land and water protectors to develop a science practice for decolonization grounded in anti-racism and feminism and, ultimately, to identify alternatives to green-washed capitalism that can truly confront climate change. Unlike the isolating high speeds of consumption promoted by the tech industry, our process as a community organization is slow, complex, collective, and relationship-driven. We seek not just to prevent further climate and environmental catastrophe, but ultimately to break away and heal from over 500 years of colonial, capitalist, racist, and heteropatriarchal violence. And we humbly propose that, from a scientific standpoint, decolonial feminist science can have a critical role in that process.
Make no mistake: we see all too clearly how the popular will of the Bolivian people has been trampled on to ensure that the returns of corporate crooks and disaster-capitalist oligarchs can be maximized. One of the most sickening aspects of this progression of events is how moneyed liberal environmentalists will pat themselves on the back for driving cars that run on the very mineral for which the will of a struggling populace is being repressed, crushed by the iron heel of profit. Electric cars may run on lithium and cobalt, but they are also powered by the blood and suffering of the Bolivian people, the entire constellation of Indigenous communities of the Andean highlands, spanning into Chile and Argentina, and child labor in the Democratic Republic of Congo. The ravenous thirst for lithium resembles that of the California gold-rush, and just as devastating as that was for Indigenous peoples of so-called California and the natural landscape, this ‘white gold rush’ aims to reverberate the same results for Western gain.
Un grupo de mujeres indígenas O’odham detuvieron por un momento la construcción del muro en la frontera en protesta por la destrucción de lo que consideran tierra sagrada. (A group of indigenous O'odham women temporarily halted the construction of the border wall in protest at the destruction of what they consider to be sacred land.)
The problem is, solutions to climate change — and other environmental problems we face — unfortunately can’t be reduced to such a simple exchange.
That’s because any choice, green energy included, is littered with unintended consequences that are hard to predict and very often end up wiping away the gains we expected from them.
Imagine an entire country enacts a law that requires the use of a more energy-efficient LED lightbulbs. Sounds good right? But what if I told you that in every country this law has been passed energy consumption went up?