If you walked along Lake Concepción on August 26, 2020, you would have seen dead animals and massive amounts of dead fish floating on top of the polluted lake (Gonzáles, 2020). Lake Concepción is located in Concepción, Bolivia in the Chiquitano/Monkoxi territories. The area around the lake is protected but local authorities say that settler Mennonites seeking to establish mechanized agricultural farms and cattle ranches come anyway (Gonzáles, 2020;Romo, 2020). In Latin American countries like Bolivia , deforestation is mostly attributed to transnational demand for beef and soy but commodities like timber, oil and minerals also pose threats to the livelihoods of indigenous peoples land and homes in Latin American regions (Carrington, 2021, Mckay & Colque, 2015). Current transnational interests for beef from Bolivia are coming from China and Russia where they’ve signed trade deals in 2020 (Carrington, 2021). Extractive industries (i.e. mechanized agriculture, logging, mining, and cattle ranches ) contribute to deforestation, climate change, and the dispossession of indigenous peoples. Indigenous peoples living in areas of the Amazon which spans across eight countries (Brazil, Bolivia, Peru, Ecuador, Colombia, Venezuela, Guyana and Suriname) are experiencing conflict over their land and natural resources and it threatens their livelihoods. This conflict extends beyond the borders of indigenous peoples’ territories and to the larger global community. Establishment of monocrops for soy and cattle ranches for beef production in areas of the Bolivian Amazon, two main contributors to deforestation, stems from transnational demand for soy and beef. Deforestation exacerbates climate change through loss of trees which cycle water, produce oxygen, and store carbon dioxide. Carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas (GHG) thatcontributes to climate change. Deforestation of the Amazon releases stored carbon and contributes to climate change in addition to environmental degradation (pollution, physical altering of land, ecosystems disrupted, etc), a byproduct of unsustainable practices of extractive industries.
We are all social human beings in some way and are connected to one another through the air we breathe, the water we drink, and the land we use to grow food and develop. Climate change impacts the availability of natural resources and is a consequence of our social relations. How we relate to each other and nature impacts how and where we live because we all rely on the same natural resources (air, water, land). In this sense, climate change presents itself as a collective challenge to humanity. Cumulative actions of humans have caused environmental degradation (i.e. polluted water, air and land; destroyed or diminished ecosystems, etc.) that contribute to and exacerbate climate change (Foster, Clark, & York, 2010; Angus, 2016). About 80% of the carbon dioxide emitted since 1751 comes from the world’s wealthiest countries which include the United States, China, and Russia compared to about 1% from the world’s poorest countries which include Bolivia (Angus, 2016). These human actions, mediated by extractive industries and policies, are also dispossessing indigenous peoples of land and natural resources and are negatively impacting their health and well-being in disproportionate ways. --- Read more by downloading the complete paper below.
Rose Poton (she/her) is a compassionate and creative Conflict and Dispute Resolution professional that enjoys working on issues involving the health and well-being of all people and environments while applying a community-centered and environmental justice lens.