To solve the climate crisis, we must first repair the relationship


Climate change is often thought of as linear time, like a series of events leading to certain things. For example, if we do not limit the temperature rise in the next few decades to less than 2 degrees Celsius, we will face a series of natural disasters.But Kyle White, a Professor of Environmental Justice At the University of Michigan, it is recommended that climate change should also be adopted by a process called “Kinship time. ”

Drawing inspiration from the traditional aboriginal way of thinking, kinship time is to understand time through the perspective of relationship. Not only the family or between people, but also the daily relationships in which we invest our time, the relationships of mutual responsibilities, such as between mentors and trainees, or between communities, or with plants and animals. The qualities of kinship include consent, trust, and reciprocity.

White believes that the United States and many other parts of the world lack a good understanding of the importance of these informal relationships. The climate crisis we face is caused by the breakdown of our relationships over time. To resolve the crisis, we must first repair these relationships.

In an interview with Grist, White, a member of Potawatomi Nation, who serves on the White House Environmental Justice Advisory Committee, explained exactly what kinship time is and explained the use of it to build climate challenges.

White said: “The pressing problem is not only the imminent environmental danger, but the climate crisis is caused by the inequality of generations.” “If people don’t recognize that this is a crisis of justice and an environmental crisis, then they will continue to raise these issues. The solution to the problem.”

Kyle White

What does climate change mean through kinship?

From an environmental justice perspective, the problem we face now is that people are using the urgency of climate change to come up with solutions, and we know that these solutions are actually detrimental to many communities (including indigenous people).

If you change your orientation towards time and look at the climate change crisis from the perspective of blood relationship, it is a crisis that began hundreds of years ago.

Climate change itself is not only caused by the increase in the concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. This is also due to the historical breakdown of kinship. Industry is the main physical driver of climate change-extractive industries, fossil fuel industries, and those industries that took root in the industrial revolution in the early 19th century.

In a context like the Americas, these industries took root because they deprived the natives of their land, which is a great disrespect for kinship. Many indigenous people will tell you that it was a period of severely damaged kinship. When these industries were established, it went through a period of turbulence and pain. Over time, as they continue to grow, they have had a terrible impact on the climate system.

The pressing problem is not only the imminent environmental danger, but the climate crisis is caused by the inequality of generations. If people do not realize that this is a crisis of justice and an environmental crisis, then they will continue to propose solutions to these problems.

What can people do to cultivate the qualities of relatives: responsibility, consent, trust?

Regarding climate change, people always care about the ecological tipping point-the system will never be restored to the previous place. But there are also critical points. I believe these critical points have passed.

The continued breakdown of kinship makes most climate change solutions likely to further damage communities that reluctantly and involuntarily abandon these industries in order to survive.

If people are not used to using the term “kinship”, they should consider their daily experience of knowing people who do not trust them and who do not believe their consent is valued, and realize that it takes time to repair the relationship. In my opinion, kinship cannot be established quickly.

Are there climate change projects that use this relative time frame?

Tribes and indigenous organizations are taking many different actions, trying to establish kinship where they don’t exist. Many tribes have developed their own climate change plans. Part of what they are trying to do is to imply that the focus of the climate change plan is to protect kinship with the environment.

You also see that grassroots indigenous organizations are doing things, such as seeking to control financing mechanisms so that they can promote renewable energy on tribal lands. But at the same time, they are discussing some issues with renewable energy, such as dirty supply chains.

Another key aspect of many of these plans is how tribes should connect with county, state, and federal governments—trying to figure out how to deal with climate change, but where they can connect better with communities. The more dominant institution.

There is not much reciprocity when the state or federal government really does what they need to do to deepen these relationships. For example, many federal agencies do not devote enough time or do not have full-time employees who can work directly with the tribe.

What does all this mean for climate change solutions?

Many engineers or politicians have encountered such a situation. They feel that they have provided some great solutions, but the community at the receiving end of the solution said that they do not trust the entity. With the climate crisis and colonialism, the kinship between native American communities and communities of color has completely disappeared, which means that when climate solutions emerge, [project developers] It cannot just be said that they will be mutually beneficial, mutually agreed or trustworthy, because it may take years to reach this point.

You cannot solve the trust issue immediately.

People need to realize that, on the one hand, renewable energy technology is very important, but until people can find a way to enable people of color, indigenous people, and the majority of people around the world to truly exercise their right to self-determination-develop their own economy and use fair Financing mechanisms, equal participation in education and training, and sufficient technical assistance-then we will see a world with a potentially lower carbon footprint, but it may be worse for those who are left behind. This happens when these infrastructure investments are not really connected to what is needed to make up for generations of colonialism, ethnic capitalism, and patriarchy.

For the sake of space and clarity, this interview has been edited.


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