Environmental activism is a noble vocation. Whether as an individual or group, exerting effort to help in saving the planet is a big and substantial contribution, especially for the generation of tomorrow. Sadly, despite the good intention behind this activity, dangers are lurking. It’s disappointing that being active in environmental groups and advocacies can be fatal, that protecting Mother Nature can be considered as fatal activism.
Like a catastrophic nightmare, being an environment ally now means death. Behind the movements and environmental activism in conserving the planet lies the list of deaths of environment defenders which are reported to have been doubled in less than two decades. This gruesome crime is even more rampant among nations that have been populated with corruption and frail laws that could have been able to protect environment activists.
Some of the fallen heroes, who had their last breath protecting the environment include indigenous peoples, scientists, lawyers, journalists, activists, park rangers, volunteers, famous critics, and even communities. This is a serious case that should be given light. In line with the planet Earth’s rotation is also the continuous blood spills of environmental defenders. All they want is just to help in addressing the environmental issues, which likely benefits everyone, but what they receive in return costs their lives.
Engaging in environmental activism is a noble but bloody state of affairs. The rapid deaths of people who’ve bravely protected their lands, water, and local wildlife are in exchange for pushing through the acts of mining and other commercial projects. Greed and personal interests take little to no consideration of the enormous impact it can create when natural calamities and unprecedented disasters occur in these regions.
Death Tolls of Environmental Activism and Corrupt Rule of Law
A recent report showed that countries, such as those in Central and South America, which have high corruption records, least likely to promote transparency, legal and fundamental rights also happen to have the highest number of killings.
Only 10% of total fatal environmental activism cases were convicted. Little has been shown that justice has been served. What’s even more alarming with these death tolls is that it had surpassed the number of soldiers killed in a war.
At least 1,558 people in 50 states were killed between 2002 and 2017. The reason behind the killings is that they just fought against capitalist interests on their lands. Many governments leaders force mining, farming, and other extractive industries into more remote regions to cope up with the global demand for resources. Using the progress of national economies as a basis, this led to the continuous rising of environmental stress, hence explaining the interests of lands.
Countries such as Brazil continuously show an increase in the number of killings of indigenous people. President Jair Bolsonaro took over their lands with reckless abandon towards exploiting the Amazon. The country was once renowned as a friendly place for its stringent policies on protecting the Amazon Rainforest and strong support for environmental activism.
Unfortunately, now it has been called out to consider the policies it implements among their indigenous people in exchange for opening up their areas for mining and agriculture. These mentioned industries are considered as major perpetrators of the rainforest, thus tolerating these activities contributes to more upcoming devastating effects of climate change globally.
Meanwhile, in the Pearl of the Orient
The Philippines, in Southeast Asia, although known for its picturesque nature, has also been identified as one of the deadliest countries to become an environment defender. An international nonprofit organization, Global Witness, reported that at least three (3) deaths in a week are recorded in this country.
Just in 2018, 164 activists were killed, and that number continues to rise until the present. The Martial Law implemented in one of its regions, specifically Mindanao, puts the environment defenders at risk since mines, logging, and plantation activities are protected by the government army. Gruesomely, any resistance depicted against these activities may label an individual as a bandit, rebel, or communist thus, putting the activists more in danger and for the community to have no choice but to silence themselves to protect their families.
The effort and selflessness of some people offer after leaving the comfort and warmth of their lives just to fight against big and unjust agriculture projects and hydroelectric dams are unmatchable. Several lawyers, defenders, park rangers, and organizations, have died without seeing any policy changes initiated by their respective governments. It’s inhumane to have this phenomenon of fatal environmental activism. It’s all the more disgusting for this to happen at a time when our planetary ecosystem is failing. Instead of helping one other, bloodshed is what they offer. Truly, human greed makes some people blind and evil.
Some of us may see the green movement as a trend or just an act of buying things that are eco-friendly. Others even deride the Zero Waste Movement as an unattainable lifestyle. As if trying to live more sustainably is a waste of effort in this plastic-dependent world we have. But there’s a bigger picture to it that you might know until now. A bloody state of affairs spills over the entire world, mainly Africa, South and Central America, and Asia.
While you are reading this, the campaign in protecting the environment leads to deaths that are continuously rising. People are dying to defend the sacred right to a healthy planet. They are killed by corporations and big men who can’t understand that you can eat nor breathe money. It’s sickening and disheartening. You might feel betrayed by the people who run the world. But the tragedy of environmental activism should be a rallying cry to change.
And while we are busy living our lives, climate change already showed its wrath in other countries. Winter had fallen in countries that used to be summer all year long. The melting of glaciers not only caused the water level to rise above normal but also vanished some animals.
We need to be cautious and aware of what’s happening to the world. We need to uncover our eyes and stop pretending that we’re unaffected by the planet’s issue. Banning plastic straws wouldn’t be enough. This is very far from being enough. Together, we need to petition for more policy changes and societal shifts. Companies and consumers in wealthy countries should take more responsibility for their products. We need to push for more ethical and transparent supply chains.
One way to hold those responsible for fatal environmental activism is to go zero waste. And when I mean, zero waste, not just your lifestyle – change your mindset too. Make sure that your voice in social media and society is not wasted. Let people know about environmental concerns. Fight in your own little way. Go zero waste, from your mindset to all your actions. It starts from an idea, then puts it into action.