Public Resistance In The Context Of Environmental Crisis Caused By The Forces Of Capitalism
Increasing awareness of the adverse effects of extractive processes on the environment has triggered the formation of many environmental organizations. Blockadia is one of the most recent movements that has adopted a different strategy compared to earlier ones. This initiative is composed of community members with an in-depth understanding of the impacts on the environment who offer alternative solutions to extractive companies. Blockadia is founded on a deep sense of democracy intended to provide a real control to communities over the resources that affect the environment (Klein 299). The movement has adopted practical tools including boycotts, court cases, and militant action aimed at stopping companies from depleting the natural resources. Nonetheless, indigenous communities in the developing countries are wooed by the extraction companies to allow them to commence operations in their neighborhoods and receive monetary benefits in return. Hence, a real solution to the problem should redress the root causes of poverty that will enable the community members to gain skills and resources that will earn them a continuous income instead of a one-time payoff by the extraction companies. The government and the mining firms used to employ physical violence and draconian legal tools that brand environmental activists as terrorists. Kleins argument is correct as evidenced by the situation in Nigeria, where the Ogoni peoples resistance against oil extraction resulted in Shell Company terminating its operations in the region, which was triggered by the Blockadia form of resistance adopted by the local indigenous community.
The goal of capitalism is to obtain increased revenue regardless of the processes involved. This aim conflicts with environmental movements since they place emphasis on using the processes that may result in reduced revenue due to increased operational costs (Baer 69). Blockadia was instigated from a need to stop the massive expansion of fossil fuel extraction. Instead, the group highlights the importance of a divestment strategy for the companies with a focus on alternative forms of energy that do not harm the environment. Resistance is intensifying as the oil companies are only concerned with acquiring expensive products that will provide significant income by employing high-risk activities (Klein 300). Notably, the people are concerned with the effect of the extraction activities on the water sources. The movements unite community members from different backgrounds. This factor motivates them to fight the mining companies in their respective regions. Furthermore, the resistance increases since the majority of the extraction companies indicate that they use safe procedures but did not undergo tests from any regulatory body.
The extractive companies initially operated on the notion of sacrificed lands, where mining operations would be conducted extensively. However, the companies failed to indicate that the people living in these communities would also be sacrificed. After some time, the sacrificed lands increased as the mining companies ventured into the new areas. The sacrificed regions that were considered to be in the middle of nowhere were now found in the center of everywhere. Governments usually agree to the mining projects due to the perceived economic benefits. Many of the industries that set up extractive operations are foreign (Dietz & Stern 54). Thus, they enable a host country to acquire a significant amount direct investment from abroad. By allowing such projects to go through, these governments pass a strong message to foreign investors that they are open for investment despite all costs. Consequently, the authorities repress the movements formed in order to oppose these groups. Nonetheless, several other factors hinder the activities of the environmental groups. For instance, poor communities often permit extractive industries to launch operations so that they can receive money. Hence, addressing the causes of poverty is imperative for environmental campaigns.
One such movement was witnessed in Nigeria. When the country welcomed foreign investors after the end of British colonial rule, numerous global corporations donated billions of dollars to drilling oil. Unfortunately, the companies have made trivial efforts in treating the waste obtained from the production of oil. Numerous spills were released to freshwater lakes, which turned them salty and killed aquatic life. Besides, during the production of oil, a considerable amount of gas is produced. If the gas produced in Nigeria was captured by building an appropriate infrastructure, it would cater for all the countrys energy demands. Nonetheless, the infrastructure would require the corporations to spend a lot of money that would reduce their profits (Klein 369). As a result, the companies opted to burn the gas thus leading to the release of carbon into the atmosphere. It is estimated that 40% of the countrys carbon emissions was released from the burning of the gas obtained from oil production.
Since the seventies, Nigerians had been protesting against the corporations for the damage done to their environment. These movements made little efforts to stop the companies from the continual production of oil. However, in the nineties, a group of indigenous people, named Ogoni and located around the Niger Delta, was involved in an organized movement against the oil corporations (Klein 397). In particular, the group focused on the Shell Company that had acquired over five billion dollars since its commenced operations in the region. Unlike the past movement, this group did not employ a hands-off approach that entailed begging the government for better conditions. Approximately 300,000 people from the community including women and children marched in protest of the company operations (Klein 359). In the very year of the movement activities, the shell was compelled to shut down operations foregoing significant revenues. The leader of the movement, Saro-Wiwa, was very vocal during the protests. He indicated that the government would have to kill the women and children from the community before they allow the corporation to resume operations.
Up to this day, oil production in the region has never been resumed, which is perhaps one of the most outstanding accomplishments of grassroots environmental activism globally. Since the withdrawal of the Shell, the land began to heal as several reports indicated improved farming output. Nevertheless, the movement was not a complete success story. The leader alongside eight other members were arrested and hanged. Coincidentally, this incidence fulfilled the prophecy of the leader, who had stated that they would be arrested and killed. This action occasioned from the government's fear of the organized rebellion depicted by the Ogoni people that threatened the income obtained from the oil exports, which was about 80% of the total revenue attained from all exports (Klein 386). People organized in Nigeria against oil extraction, and the government responded brutally. The conflict escalated to a full-blown armed insurgency, complete with bombings of oil infrastructure and government targets, rampant pipeline vandalism, ransom kidnapping of oil workers." Despite the murder of their leader, the community did not relent in its effort to protest against the oil corporations. People advised the youth to continue organizing non-violent protests. The government in turn responded by using excessive force against the peaceful demonstrators: over 200 people died in the demonstrations (Klein 389). This fact later triggered the natives to adopt violent protest methods.
In chronological time, the movements employed a hands-off approach. The members would send numerous emails to the congressmen demanding them to take an absolute stand on environmental matters. Furthermore, the movements did not suggest any alternative to the projects as the participants did not have comprehensive insight on the issues (Harrison & Mikler 97). Therefore, it could be argued that stopping the extractive operations would lead to the industry becoming bankrupt. However, Blockadia has embraced a hands-on approach to resistance. The people are now involved in boycotts, court cases, and militant action. This proactive approach has been a primary element of success of these movements. However, during certain incidences, the situations escalate into violence, where the activists are beaten and arrested by the police. Furthermore, the new movements now provide a divestment model that suggests an alternative model for the discontinued projects. This fact facilitates a consensus between the movements and the extractive industries. Moreover, Blockadia has embraced an approach allowing the people in the communities to take leading roles in the campaign as they realize the full effects of the mining operations. These activists understand that keeping carbon in the ground and protecting ancient carbon sequestering forests from being clear-cut for mines is a prerequisite for preventing catastrophic warming. For instance, doctors, students, farmers, and people in various businesses are involved in the resistance against the oil companies. By doing so, they exemplify a united front that educates the public on the importance of conserving the environment. The movement has adopted the use of catchy slogans like Water is life and You cant eat money in their campaigns. These expressions have proved to be effective as they convey the message to a broad audience (Lovins & Cohen 69). The slogans made the people cognizant of the urgency of the issue and thus encouraged them to participate.
The involvement of women in the campaigns is a major method that has been witnessed in the new movements. Crises like this cry out for collective action....for governments to have our back (This Changes Everything). Women have been instrumental in the campaigns as they have taken proactive roles. For instance, in New Brunswick, the picture of a mother kneeling in the center of a highway went viral, while in Greece, a seventy-four-year-old woman confronted the police by chanting a revolutionary song that was sung during the Greek resistance (Klein 350). In Romania, the picture of an old woman holding a walking stick that had the caption you know your government has failed when your grandma starts to riot. Additionally, the movements have employed the use of checkpoints in order to inform the public when the extractive companies make a move. When certain members notice any sign of activity, they quickly inform other participants, who then gather in large numbers to hold peaceful demonstrations. Initially, the government was using the checkpoints to conveniently prevent the media from accessing sites where the police officers were using force against the protesters. Therefore, the media could not report on the illegal means that were being employed to repress the rebellion (Newell & Paterson 44). Consequently, the public and human rights movements were unaware of the illegal means used by the authorities. Ten of the most dangerous words known to communities nowadays is hi am from the government and am here to help (This Changes Everything). This perception is due to the actions taken by the government.
The resistance of the Ogoni people exemplifies Kleins argument of the effectiveness of indigenous communities employing proactive ways in stopping corporations from polluting their land. Earlier movements in the country had been ineffective in stopping the companies from continuing their operations, which is evidenced by the rampant pollution apparent in the region. However, the Ogoni people adopted a Blockadia approach of resistance to the oil companies that entailed numerous people marching on the enterprise premises (Klein 366). The new approach resulted in the termination of all mining activities in the region. In spite of the unfortunate incidences that resulted from the movement activities, the initiative was successful. Two decades later, the active reprisals are no longer ongoing, but the Saro-Wiwa is celebrated worldwide on the anniversary of his killing (Henshaw). Nowadays, Saro-Wiwa alongside eight of his colleagues, often referred to as the Ogoni nine, represent the power of resistance.
In conclusion, this resistance was effective as it achieved its primary goal. From the very beginning, the leaders knew that they might suffer adverse consequences. However, they were not afraid realizing that the anticipated benefits of the movement would be enjoyed by the community and the future generations. The campaign managed to stop the corporation from producing oil in the region. However, capitalism causes the authorities to take unnecessary measures to repress the rebellion. For instance, the government of Nigeria relies heavily on the export of oil. Therefore, they require the corporations to continue their operations. Consequently, the government used brutal force against the peaceful demonstrators. From the resistance, I learned that collaboration among the people with a common goal is a key to attaining the intended goals. What is more, determination results in the attainment of targets. When people know what they want and strive to achieve it, they manage to realize their aims. People united under the purpose of diminishing the pollution on their land, and thus managed to stop the Shell from continuing its operations. The resistance motivates me to pursue my goals regardless of the challenges I will face on the way. By doing so, I will accomplish all my objectives and lead a happy life.