- Aaliyah Smith and Mareshah Malcom
We Are in a Moral Crisis: The reality of Forest Extractivism
Extraction has been normalized in our country since its founding. The color of your skin or the zip code of your home determines the nature of your health and quality of life, and the biomass crisis in the southeast has only exacerbated this issue that BIPOC communities face. Biomass, or the burning of living or once-living organisms to produce fuel (heat or electricity), near frontline communities has added to the severity of the crisis. The forceful removal of life from environments we call home hinders the elevation of life and the movement towards a just transition. These community members are slowly losing their quality of life while fighting for their lives, families and communities.
These frontline communities to the biomass industry are left unprotected repeatedly due to little-to-no government regulation. Currently, it seems that powerful groups will only uplift those who support their extractive agenda, all at the expense of vulnerable communities and critical ecosystems. So, we must ask ourselves, who really benefits from extraction? It’s definitely not the nature we rely on for survival and a good quality of life. It definitely isn't the communities that supposedly receive jobs from these industries. The only benefit that comes from extraction is money flowing into the pockets of private landowners and big corporations. It is apparent that we have a long history of racist exploitation and economic inequality (that hasn't been repaired or reconciled) that is continuing into the present- THAT'S the real moral issue!
You have to wonder about the morals of the companies that produce biomass fields. Is life about the greater good or is it about how much money you have to your name? According to recent trends, it seems like people are more concerned with the extractivism and exploitation of people internationally, rather than looking at the problems in their own country. These same issues that are publicized around the world are the same issues that we face in our own backyards. The health crises that derive from pollution, deforestation, and biomass are not highlighted enough in the United States. In Let's Talk with Rev featuring Danna Smith and Erniko Brown, they discuss the lack of basic infrastructure such as clean water months after a natural disaster occurred. This makes you wonder- where is the hope for the people who aren’t able to bounce back from similar situations? Who can they depend on? Social issues seem to be the least of our worries according to government officials and big corporations.
It seems that it isn't until a powerful person is directly impacted that regulations and policies change. How do we become more proactive? How do we protect those who are already vulnerable to what is happening? We must connect our hearts and ears with frontline communities because climate Justice is racial justice, and racial justice is social justice.
This is what draws us, young climate activists, towards the environmental justice movement. The work is impactful, meaningful, and intersectional. It brings out the passion to fight for the cause and future generations that will lead us towards a just transition. It’s time we take a stance and help these communities fight back! Human and nature are one, not separate! We must show the same love and resilience for humans that we do for nature and animals.
You may ask yourself, what is it that I can do to bring more light to the situation? How can I help? It starts with informing yourself. Use tools like social media , books, and blogs, to educate yourself. We also encourage word of mouth to push the narrative to reform policies that go against natural human rights. You can also help by doing the groundwork, such as volunteering for local grassroot organizations, like the People’s Justice Council that focus on climate justice /human rights issues to fight for justice from the grassroots to the policy level.