Essay By Eric Worrall
According to Research Associate Flossie Kingsbury, learning how your ancestors exploited the natives and burned lots of coal helps you embrace the idea of climate reparations.
How taking a closer look at your family tree can help you get to grips with climate change
Published: May 19, 2022 12.17am AEST
Postdoctoral Research Associate in History, Aberystwyth University
Put simply, climate change is the result of two processes: industrialisation and colonialism. Industrialisation is when a society’s primary mode of production shifts from manual agricultural labour to machine-aided manufacturing. Colonialism is when one nation occupies and exerts control over another, usually involving violence and exploitation.
Let’s look at some examples from my own family. Samuel Polyblank (born around 1816), one of my great-great-great-grandfathers, was a shipwright from London’s East End. The ships he worked on helped to feed demand for international trade, taking goods to and from the colonies. They may even have been used by the East India Company, the world’s first global corporate superpower, and a key player in colonial rule and exploitation in Asia.
Through his work, Samuel Polyblank found himself caught up in, and working to support, a system whose impacts – including widespread deforestation, pollution, soil sterilisation and biodiversity collapse – continue to be felt today.
One challenge of personally engaging with the climate crisis is learning that your ancestors were complicit in things that you would rather be distanced from. But this isn’t about blaming our ancestors, who may well have been exploited themselves.
Instead, understanding these connections can help encourage us to prioritise climate justice and eco-friendly behaviours in our own lives, from cutting down on meat and unsustainable travel to writing to your elected officials about environmental issues in your community. …
…Read more: https://theconversation.com/how-taking-a-closer-look-at-your-family-tree-can-help-you-get-to-grips-with-climate-change-183167
I don’t get it. Why should I feel any sense of responsibility for what my ancestors did? I had no say over their decisions and actions. I feel gratitude that the world they built allows me to sit on my dry and comfortable armchair typing WUWT articles, while a storm rages outside. I miss those ancestors I knew, who are no longer with us. And whichever non-English ancestor bequeathed me the genetics which let me hang out in the tropical sun without getting sunburned, an especial vote of thanks.