Carbon Colonialism

Around the year 1400, 1500 it must have started: We were short of a lot of resources, and sailed out to get it elsewhere. First there was Columbus, soon followed by all sea faring European nations . It was the birth of modern colonialism. We conquered or occupied countries, and shipped everything home. First herbs and spices, later everything that was produced abroad. As we had occupied as many countries as we could , we found out that there was a much easier way: There was empty non productive land in the Americas, and we started shipping people to work on that land: Slavery was born, colonizing people themselves. It is also known as the first main energy crises: A slave produced more as he used himself, in terms of food. [1] Much more even, the EROI, energy return on investment, was high, so to say. A continuous stream of products and later raw resources was brought to Europe. It was still transported in a environmental friendly way: by sailing ships, though it cost most countries their forests, as these were clearcut for shipbuilding. But that was of later concern. And by the time of the 19th century it was fossil fuels that became the most hunted resources. Especially oil (products) had to be imported to Europe. As a result we started interfering in oil possessing countries, and up to today, there is a direct link between where there oil is and where there is turmoil.

Now we have entered the 21st century, the population everywhere in the world has grown, and there not a single spot unoccupied anymore. Steeling and plundering is no option anymore, as is slavery , at least in the formal form.

Our behavior in the mean time has created a mess , problems can be found all around the world, so now we want to try to save what can be saved. Everything has to be sustainable now, and from 100% renewable energy, since, oh dear, it might get to warm or to wet here under our feet. As warm and wet as it was in our former colonies, and that is something we did not want to import.

Se we have to rely on other resources, and where to get these? On top of that , We want to stay as rich as we are, at least the 1 % super-rich, that own as much as the 99% others in the world. [2] It has to give them a financial profit somehow. And then there are 20-30% others, less rich, but with a big enough profit from resources and “climate consumption”, to be eager to defend it.

The other 70-80% , live from far less resources, and would like to improve, but is caught in between. For the 20-30 % to maintain their welfare,( which was built on the first three colonization waves in the first place) they have to make an enormous transition, to build millions of windturbines, and millions of m2 solar panels. And all need a electric car, to be able to connect to renewable energy. How to organize that? Currently not with renewable materials or energy, but with increasing steel and concrete production for building the turbines as well as aluminium and other resources for solar panels. You would think, we had learned that this is not the desired direction, but no. Its not in our DNA, that is, industry has made believe everyone, with lobbying and marketing , that it has to be that way. But steel , aluminum, concrete and all other materials , require enormous amounts of CO2 to produce. The cement industry even will be exempted from buying CO2 credits for the next 10 years, since the lobby convinced everyone there is no other way.[3]

But didn’t we , just a short while ago , make agreements in Paris on keeping global warming below 2 degrees, and even 1,5 if possible? And shouldn’t we conclude, that we, in Europe, in industrialized countries, have had more as our share so far, and that there is hardly any CO2 for us to emit anymore? What still is available, or can be emitted, should go to the other 60-70 pct of people, that want to improve their living standard, and have hardly any CO2 emission history. They only have been exploited so far. One would think. As Huesemann in “the Techno Fix” states: they are not underdeveloped, but overexploited [4]

Or at least get their fair share from now on. But of course that to easy thinking: The remaining CO2 emissions are needed to maintain the welfare of 20-30 %, to be able to continue living in luxury. And more, if possible, since most actions even should lead to more comfort, healthier cities, and so on. In the Netherlands they are thinking about expanding houses to be able to install enough PV panels… ( sic) [5]

Which brings us to the fourth wave of colonization, which could be marked the ‘Carbon Colonialism Age’. We are again taking a uneven share of the remaining CO2 emissions, in other words, steeling and plundering the fair share of the 70-80% of poorest people. [6] Since adapting our lifestyle is out of discussion: ”If our economy does not survive, the whole world will collapse”, is the message. Which world? Precisely, the world of the 20-30% richest. Not the others ‘world’. They still know how to survive, how to deal with low resource circumstances. That is, we have forced them to learn how to cope with low resource situations.

And now it happens again: The 2 degrees is a farce, we already can conclude, [7], and still we continue re- building our whole luxurious society. Its scandalous. Since the effects of climate change , especially beyond the 2 degrees, will mainly be experienced in the developing countries. Not with us. And as far as we will experience something, we will start investing again, since it’s a ‘chance’ , a opportunity for business. We call it a ‘knowledge economy’, which can be exported for a lot of money, since we know how to deal with it. We profit from the fact that others with our knowledge will continue producing and harming the climate. For solving problems caused by us in the first place. But thats old news: we already know from books as “the Shock Doctrine” by Naomi Klein, or “, the Global Minotaur” by Varoufakis, how these tactics work. [8][9]

As it goes know, the 2 degrees is a farce , and things move the wrong direction. But by that time, we will be high and dry, with windparks all around us, bigger houses, electric cars, and dikes higher then fences. Don’t worry, be happy. Apparently this is how modern evolution works, that has always been crude, with survival of the fittest….


[1] Something new under the sun J.R.Mc Neill 2000, revised 2008, an environmental history of the 20th century

[2] oxfam report:

[3] cement emissions ets :

[4] Techno-Fix: Why Technology Won’t Save Us Or the Environment ,2011, by Michael Huesemann, Joyce Huesemann

[5] Artikel Cobouw:

[6] see indicative calculations at:

[7] one of many articles and papers:

[8] Naomi Klein, the shock doctrine, 2007

[9] The Global Minotaur: America, Europe and the Future of the Global Economy, Yanis Varoufakis 2015


Author: ronald rovers