We have been talking about climate change recently as if it were a contemporary problem. But you place its origin centuries ago, in European colonialism
– That is one of the problems we have when we think about climate change as if it were something contemporary or recent. Let’s not think of it as something from the past and that will affect the future. But if you look at the genealogy of the disasters happening around us, we can see that there are specific issues that connect us in history. I think this is why it is important not to ignore the consequences of history in the present.
-In your book, you find the origin of the climate crisis in the nutmeg trade. Because?
– The story of the book begins with nutmeg because I use it as a metaphor for its history, which is very interesting, and explains well the extractivism of resources and the impact it can have. It happened on the island of Banda. That unique tree is important to its inhabitants, not only economically, but culturally. But that tree became a curse for them because it led to the extermination of the original populations. We can see how this is repeated over and over again across the planet about many resources. Cotton or sugar cane in America and the Caribbean and led millions of Africans into slavery. We also see this in South America with the slavery of the natives. The same thing happened in many other places. Now we observe it in the world, climate change is also the result of resource extraction on a global level.
–Is it in the struggle for resources where you put the origin of the climate crisis?
-I say that the use of resources. For example, fossil fuels. It’s one thing to get fossil fuel, but there is a use, how do we use it, what do we get? Dump the garbage, fill the real garbage, dump it in the stratosphere, emissions. It is when we use fossil fuels that we damage the atmosphere, that we damage the planet.
-And if everything is from afar, is the planet in time for salvation?
-I’m not a prophet, I don’t have an oracle, I don’t see the future. I can’t say what will happen. But one of the sad things about the climate crisis is that when one sees possible progress, it is swallowed up by other events. For example, today the climate crisis is canceled by war conflicts. And now that is what we are talking about, the armed conflicts. Therefore, it is very complicated, sometimes very complicated, to talk about the climate crisis. And indeed we must not forget that wars themselves are one of the most polluting activities in the world. Many planes are there bombing the territories. And it emits gases, a lot… The only thing I can say is that the future is not such a good scenario.
-And if the world has salvation, where is this salvation? You talk in your book about a new way of looking at the earth.
– I think there are challenges around us and we need to activate some ways to reduce fossil fuel consumption. It is not impossible, but you have to try. I don’t know if we will make this effort, but we have seen efforts on the part of the population on other occasions, in other contexts. So maybe we can get back on that path of stopping to consume how we consume.
-Rich countries maintain that poor and developing countries are the most polluting. And China and India are targeted.
–I think that in the issue of gas emissions, the effect of the climate that we see today is the result of the emissions that were made 100 years ago. When we talk about this problem, we must not forget history, because history brings us to the present. We must not forget historical emissions. Today, China and India produce a lot of emissions, it is true, but their historical emissions are very low. And even if we talk about per capita emissions, it’s very, very small. Their emissions are fractions of Europeans’ emissions, of what the United States emits. These countries also do not consume the amount of energy in a year that they would in the US or Europe, for example. Therefore, there is a big difference between the consumption of energy and the distribution of energy, and for Europe or the Westerners who now say that the Indians or the Chinese emit more gases illogical and a little hypocritical because each individual pollutes and what a person pollutes. India is much smaller than what an individual pollutes here in Europe, for example.
-Do you believe that under the umbrella of climate change, the possibility of development is denied to developing countries with rich countries?
-You can never deny the growth of developing or developing countries. Until 1945, when the process of decolonization began, this same process was based on the denial of certain issues such as industrialization, for example, in the global south, but it is not possible today to stop the industrialization of the global south It is impossible to tell China or India not to industrialize, not to bet on their growth, because they will not listen to you. They are industrializing themselves and looking for ways to try to reduce their carbon footprint, trying to reduce the impact of individual consumption on their populations. And this is the only way to do it with an environmental conscience. But is there any Western leader or politician who has the real courage, the courage to say to his country, to his citizens, we must stop consuming and start a new way of life? No, they didn’t say it.
-Are we not taking the climate emergency seriously?
– This is how it is. For example, we are talking about a country like Italy, which suffers daily climate events, and various disasters, and it is not this problem of the climate crisis that is discussed or made visible in the Italian press, far from it. It is also not discussed in the Spanish state and the consequences can be seen in agriculture and the desert, for example, in the lack of rain. In other words, we see the consequences, but there is no action on the part of citizens, and politicians, to stop it.
-And as climate denial grows…
-They close their eyes to the reality that surrounds them. We can all see what is happening, we don’t need science to prove it to you. We will see it. In the global south, everyone knows it, everyone knows it. I have hardly ever met a climate denier, neither on the African continent nor in South America. Denial is a pathology in rich countries. It is built and supported by energy companies. They advocated a model similar to the tobacco industry at the time. They deny all and most of the money generated by this industry is directly in the hands of the extreme right and therefore their political proposals.
-Do you think the COPs, the annual conferences on climate change, are of any use?
-I think there are goals, yes, but if the agreements are not implemented later, as Greta Thungerg said, everything is blah, blah. blah. I think these meetings like the COP are also opportunities for activists from around the world to gather in counter-summits, especially. However activists were not excluded from the debate.