CleanTech News has explored alternative ways of thinking about the climate crisis with Dr. Bayo Akomolafe, Chief Curator and Executive Director of the Emergence Network.
The Emergence Network is an online hub of people from all walks of life and disciplines coming together to share alternative views to approaching the climate crisis and other social issues.
Dr. Akomolafe spoke to CleanTech News about his organisation. He stated:
In my work with The Emergence Network, I am seeing a growing trans-local fugitive network of agents that are learning to meet the world in new ways. For this assemblage of post activist learning, the familiar ways we respond to the climate crisis is part of the crisis – and our framings of justice are symptomatic of our metabolic rift from the world around us.
We are learning to think beyond climate justice, beyond racial justice, to think from the middle, and to learn to listen to a world that is more alive than modernity can imagine.”
Western Discourse and diversity
In Western discourse, there is a clear distinction between humans and nature. This idea is widely accepted in cultural mediums, economic systems, and development models worldwide. As Western ideas dominant the environmental sector, the climate crisis is still a threat to humanity and every single living organism on earth.
Dr. Akomolafe is one of the postcolonial thinkers encouraging the inclusion of diverse voices and approaches to the climate crisis. He stated concerning this, “I am certain that within institutions and organizations concerned with climate justice, there are plentiful instances of racial discrimination and denial. Who gets to speak, who gets funded for research, whose voices are celebrated, who is brought into the room and who is left out…these poignant matters are alive and can be addressed.”
Speaking passionately to CleanTech News, Dr. Akomolafe stated, “Many non-western populations and indigenous communities have long understood that the way we respond to the crisis is part of the crisis. Despite our rhetoric, despite our righteous indignation and well-regarded intentions, the effects of our actions are distilled through organizational systems, through the algorithms of Facebook, through rituals not offered and rites of passage not undergone. The result of this assemblage is usually the reproduction of the same. The reinforcement of the familiar.”
Dr. Akomolafe: rethinking Western solutions to the climate crisis
Questioning the solutions to the climate crisis coming from the West, Dr Akomolafe said, “As a citizen of an African nation-state, I have an inherent suspicion of Western “solutions”. They have tended to propagate a domineering paradigm of imperial control, of colonized futures, of white temporalities, and of toxic perpetuity.
Even good intentions, philanthropy and foreign aid often become part of larger assemblages that reproduce displacement and suffering. As such, I am often caught speaking about fugitivity, about leaving behind the production houses and plantations that keep us tethered to certain humanistic values and ideas about what we ‘should’ be doing in response to climate change.”
Ego-logical vs ecological
Dr. Akomolafe has proposed an alternative way of thinking about solutions to the climate crisis, he stated “In contrast with an ego-logical perspective, an ecological view does not see solutions as fixing anything. There is no stable “we” behind the act of climate intervention. Instead, solutions are world-shaping relationships and ethical-epistemological-ontological performances that determine how bodies become different or similar.
“The invitation is to examine what discourses lurk behind the emerald curtains of solutionism. What we are grappling with goes beyond fixing the weather: we are grappling with our mortality, with the Faustian deal that purchased for us our vaunted independence in exchange for our connections with the animacy of the world around us, and with deep uncertainty about the future. Rushing into familiar patterns of engagement risks the reinforcement of those patterns that got us in trouble in the first place.”
Discussing capitalism, Dr. Akomolafe views it as the catalyst fuelling the climate crisis, explaining:
The problem of inefficiency or intermittency and the endless quest for the holy grail of sustainability are problems created by our capitalist arrangement, by a vast matrix of entitlement that assumes that the material world ought to work for us. An exaggerated sense of “me” goes along with capitalist power and climate collapse.”
The developing country Bhutan is setting an example for the rest of the world as the only carbon negative country. Perhaps, the key to tackling climate change is in an exchange of diverse ideas between countries and policy makers rather than one dominant or mainstream discourse that gets rolled out globally.