In 2020, the American Institute of Architects made a statement about its role in the destruction of BIPOCQ communities and its passivity in restoration; meanwhile, the cost of housing has skyrocketed out of control and the real estate industry is still relentlessly building suburbs that require people to own vehicles. At a recent architecture graduate presentation, one of the long-term professors commented about how architecture is violent due to how it often intrudes on spaces without consent and irrevocably changes the way people live forever. This admission of violence demonstrates how many people are finally becoming aware that no decision takes place in a vacuum, and lavish lifestyles affect the lives of others. While 2020 was a year of performative statements on justice, what we now see is how desperate the dominant narrative is to preserve its image while changing none of its behavior, which is one of the reasons why climate change has intensified. Even though lifestyle adjustments are required to avoid destroying the planet we live on, many people would rather push the problems on those enduring the effects rather than the people who exacerbated the problems.
One of the most frustrating things about not having money, but living near people who do, has been a refusal to acknowledge the responsibility in shaping the future of others. The wealthy, developers and/or corporations have been able to set the tone of existence for decades, but instead of demonstrating any real innovations in sustainability or cleaning up some of the messes made by their hyperfocus on profit, we are still enduring the lies that we the public need to clean up after ourselves, work harder, and that we deserve whatever reality in which we exist. Income determines whether anyone gets to live in dense spaces and enjoy walkability and choice, so if people are regularly discriminated against by income, there is no way that most people can participate in such options, and their lives are determined for them. To add insult to injustice, most of those who enjoy control and resources enjoy claiming superiority over people with whom they never engage, thus never being confronted with the consequences of their actions. “Progressive” cities are filled with homeless encampments, but instead of developing rules against those increasing the rents, there have been aggressive rules against the solutions of the working poor, and segregation has been in effect since the United States began.
Generally speaking, economics has a principle of “creating a market,” and what is that but an impetus to make a mess? More importantly, who has to suffer the consequences of said mess? The beliefs of those with control and resources have shaped more about the future than any vote or collectivism could ever dream, and the most insulting truth is that the few have several backup plans against the climate destruction of many. When viewing BIPOCQ neighborhoods, more people have commented on how the residents have little pride for their homes and communities instead of acknowledging that predominantly white communities have been prioritized and protected for centuries, not just decades. Moreover, BIPOCQ areas are targeted for garbage and pollution while predominantly white communities have enjoyed the ears and wallets of those in power. In fact, simply mentioning children can make municipal governments forget that all kinds of people have children, not just those who have time to sit in meetings and offer campaign funds.
Many night hosts and media outlets commented on China’s absence from the United Nations Climate Change conference, saying that it was the leading source of pollution for the entire planet. However, those same people failed to acknowledge that the United States is an imperial force that has degraded a number of countries for our own conveniences, and China has been our target for a little over two decades (there is a Yale University campus in Beijing, and yes, China already has universities). Furthermore, the United States has built itself up in China to steal “tainted” Communist money and attempt to establish control–you know, like an empire–and China has merely retaliated by answering our expansionism. Perhaps one should consider that routinely exploited people have no interest in public relations stunts planned by those who exploit them, especially since the exploiters have. One cannot be “for” or “against” human beings amidst climate destruction because human beings exist; one can choose to engage or not, but opinions are irrelevant unless forced on people.
When people say that profits and economics are more important that environmental degradation, the sky is the literal limit, which is why nationalism is dangerous. Capitalism has solved none of the messes that it created, and continues to leave the most vulnerable with the responsibility of cleanup. The biggest solution to climate change is to acknowledge that interference shapes behavior patterns, and reduce the presence of those interfering to extract from people who never asked to be a part of someone else’s fantasy. No one asked to become enslaved, BIPOCQ communities never asked for environmental degradation, and Asian countries did not accept foreign interference with the idea that they would be smeared by the very people they offered collaboration. If no one with control and resources can offer a solution without involving further control and gaining resources, that person deserves neither a platform nor validation.