Episode 3: Climate Crisis Double Speak: “Mitigation”

“In a time of deceit telling the truth is a revolutionary act.” 

― George Orwell

We are dealing with willful deception and misuse of terms to create false impressions, so let’s be clear about our own use of language. Our use of the term “neocolonialist” best describes the countries, institutions and organisations that have collectively rebranded themselves as the “global north”. The dictionary definition of neocolonialism is “the use of economic, political, cultural, or other pressures to control or influence other countries, especially former dependencies”. Doesn’t this neatly describe what is going on right now before our eyes? Neocolonialism is in full display in the global response to the climate crisis.

Let’s now get to grips with the convoluted language being deployed in any forum discussing Climate Change. The concept of “mitigation” is one such term and of course when used as a label by western institutions they distort it to mean something else. However sometimes they slip up and a more literal understanding of the word reveals their underlying intentions and behaviour.

According to UNEP “climate change mitigation refers to efforts to reduce or prevent emission of greenhouse gases. Mitigation can mean using new technologies and renewable energies, making older equipment more energy efficient, or changing management practices or consumer behavior. It can be as complex as a plan for a new city, or as a simple as improvements to a cook stove design. Efforts underway around the world range from high-tech subway systems to bicycling paths and walkways”.

Which sounds well and good, except that if you examine where their mitigation projects are pinned in the global map – they are not in America or Europe but mostly Africa. In the neocolonialist countries they are actually increasing their polluting behaviour, actually doing the very opposite of the great statements they espouse. In light of this, it would be more accurate to paraphrase the above paragraph as follows: to them “mitigation” means increasing the use of coal, oil and gas, and production of harmful pesticides, synthetic fertilizers, and heavily subsidizing the consumption of polluting oil and gas, while increasing the production of nuclear weapons, cluster bombs and uranium shells, as well as landmines. How does this acceleration of environmentally harmful behaviour qualify as mitigation? Isnt this a blatant case of “do what we say, not what we do”?

Therefore we must recognize the more accurate meaning of mitigation in the case of the neocolonialist countries. The dictionary defines mitigation as “the effort to make something, especially a crime, appear less serious and thus be punished less severely”.  This is exactly what the “Global North” are doing. They are serial climate crisis criminals who are determined to get away with their crimes, while making the rest of the world believe they mean no harm and are changing. Meanwhile they ask us to mitigate their behaviour by behaving even better towards the environment than we already are doing. It is like a gang of vicious burglars who upon being apprehended and brought to court, in mitigation advise the community to all stay in their houses at night to reduce the crime rate, while reserving the right to be the ones to go out in the dark to vandalize their homes at will. It is madness but they fully expect to get away with it.

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