Amitav Ghosh’s book, The Nutmeg’s Curse – Parables for a Planet in Crisis – is an insightful genealogy of exploitation and extermination of people in Indonesia by Dutch explorers for control of a spice – nutmeg. The Plantation Economy.
He draws our attention to the ideas and practices that have led to destruction of entire civilizations for a profit. These destructive processes made European and American cultures rich while destroying cultures and landscapes of poorer countries whose people have been exploited.
Ghosh rightly points out that developed nations must reconsider how we live on Earth. Our way of life is clearly unsustainable. But, he asks, who is responsible for climate change? Who should pay?
Listen to an interview with the author on Living on Earth.
In similar ways, the mesquite forests were cut down along the Colorado River for steamboat power during the Gold Rush. Native people harvested wood from the forests and piloted the boats transporting Europeans in search of treasure across the river near Yuma. By then, native culture had been so disrupted by the colonization of North America that these were their only options to sustain their communities. The forests had been key sources of food, shelter, and energy for the Colorado River Nations who had lived sustainably within the margins of mesquite forests for thousands of years.
Photo by Susan Feathers, Sonoran Desert near Tucson, AZ
Read Threshold, a tale about how to live in a time of climate change.