ClimateCovid P3.3: 2020 US Elections and Climate Justice



Panel 3.3: Applying a Decolonial Lens to the Green New Deal


“Applying a Decolonial Lens to the Green New Deal”

David Cobb (Director of Cooperation Humbolt and and Co-Coordinintary of US Solidarity Economy Network) and Meleiza Figueroa (Fellow with the Liberty Tree Foundation for a Democratic Revolution and a worker-owner of the Cooperative New School)

Q & A

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4 replies
  1. Wesley Martinez says:

    David Cobb, a pleasure to hear you speak on these matters. It is definitely all interconnected, I completely agree. Your comments on the Greek definition of “economy” as it applies to these circumstances was very interesting and I think I will spend some time considering Terra as our “household” and the management of it.

    Meleiza Figueroa, what has been truly amazing to me is hearing some personal acquaintances not recognize the extreme nature of these past few fire seasons as examples of a climate that is becoming more extreme. I really like the idea of sharing traditional knowledge. Native Americans have long been held as separate, creating economic and social disadvantages that translate into political ones. Perhaps this could be a way of offsetting these problems and developing a more equitable system going forward. I am not knowledgeable of native cultures in California so out of curiosity is there an oral tradition (mythological storytelling) or are there parables related to the fire season here in California?

  2. Jolie Gobler says:

    Thank you so much David and Mel for speaking on this issue and for the work you are doing!

    Prior to listening to this panel, I didn’t know that there were three different versions of the Green New Deal. It’s pretty clear to me that what we need is the Green Party’s GND, which defunds the military, redirects funds toward sustainable programs, and creates jobs at the local level. I really appreciate the idea of doing things at a local level, as emphasized by David and Mel. Since many of the effects of climate change are already set in, like the wildfires in California, it is important that we learn to manage these effects within our communities and Indigenous knowledge is hands down the best way to do so. The traditional ecological certification program going on in Chico is super inspiring, and I am wondering if there are similar programs in other parts of California?

  3. Julia Samuel says:

    Thank you David and Mel for sharing your valuable experience and perspectives!
    I was unaware before that some believed that we are already living in a post-apocalyptic time, although looking around in 2020 that does not seem like that much of a stretch. I have often heard the prospective we must center Indigenous and Native voices within the discourse of climate justice, as their people have been living and thriving in greater balance with nature long before Europeans invaded the US continent (and many other continents). However, I worry that this perspective is often mishandled, placing a majority of the burden of problem solving on Indigenous people, when they are ultimately not responsible for the destruction of our environment. How would you recommend we go about respectfully learning from Indigenous people, without sticking them with a majority of emotional and physical labor that will be needed to correct colonialist mistakes?

  4. Isabella Binger says:

    I would first like to thank you both for taking the time to talk about such an important yet overlooked factor in the climate crisis: decolonization. Dr. Cobb, I 100% agree with your claim that the ecological and economic late stage capitalism crises globally are creating a political crisis as well because the system in which all of these aspects are founded upon cannot function under this disorder due to its foundation upon colonization. Capitalism as a system is fundamentally extracting labor as a profit, and its discussion within the scope of the United States has been happening elsewhere for hundreds of years for failing marginalized groups of people. I have been one to put blind faith in concepts such as the Green New Deal because of its status and recognition, but that should not be the case. As Mel Figueroa pointed out, the Green New Deal by itself cannot be used without the decades of essential knowledge indigenous people have of the lands in which they inhabit. Colonization has transformed, devastated and destroyed much of landscapes, and as indigenous people have stated, we are already in the post-apocalyptic version of our Earth. The Chico Traditional Ecological Stewardship Program is such an amazing example of how to decolonize ecological efforts. Instead of the viewpoint that native communities used to be ‘hunters and gatherers’, we as a society should instead acknowledge the usefulness of traditional knowledge for fire control, restoration, and other climate crises. Figueroa’s further breakdown of how they want to achieve this goal through workforce development, acknowledgment of the intrinsic knowledge indigenous communities have of land, and certification process shows that decolonization needs to happen not only on the local level, but all the way up to ideas such as the Green New Deal. Thank you both so much for your insight, I love thinking about new concepts related to environmentalism because all crises are interconnected at some scale.

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