Sustainability, as the main topic of discussion in Professor Robert Markley`s lecture “After sustainability: (The future) Histories of climate change” poses an important connection between the oppression of different cultures throughout human history and the mistreatment of distinct ecosystems around the world. Professor Markley began his talk by offering two separate visions of this planets future in sustainability. He asks, “What do we envision being sustained?” First he proposes the idea that mankind wants to sustain the earth as a whole. As an alternative he presents the notion that mankind would rather preserve the productivity of the natural world so that we can maintain, improve and extend first world standards of living. The latter is an incredibly colonialist mentality in my perspective.
Instead of human beings living in harmony with the undisturbed balance of nature, we feel the need to want to transform it into something that we consider “better.” Based on the political cartoons that we analyzed for the previous blog post, it seems as if humans are to the environment what European colonialist are to the victims of imperialism. One of the pictures depicted the Anglo –Saxon settlers as living in turmoil. Despite their technological advancements, governmental order, and political power they are portrayed as sad and poor individuals who liv in squalor. The setting is glum and lifeless despite the presence of buildings which emphasis their development in juxtaposition to the native’s land on the other side of the picture. The natives seem happy and free. More importantly, their land is untouched and not disturbed by the shelter that the natives have built and the food that they eat. Instead of altering their environment to allow them to live in a better and more civilized society. The natives used the resources that they were given coexist with the land. In doing so, they were able to sustain the beauty and purity of the land.
The most prominent point that intrigued me the most about Professor Markley`s lecture was how he mentioned in William Damipier`s map of the pacific trade winds, which was made in 1709, shows how land that appears along the same latitude lines contain and sustain the same plants and animal. Not only does Markely touch on the subject of slave transportation with this information, it also served as an interesting interpretation of the political cartoons spatial imagery. The picture by the unknown artist, depicting the two opposing lands so close together grew more significant as I learned that species that grow along the same latitude lines can thrive even thousands of miles apart. This interested me because it seemed as if the artist was showing how it isn’t he land that is unkind to the natives when they are transported. It is the people who ruin that land and oppress the natives. This is the warning that Markely`s talk contained. Sustainability is a matter of maintaining nature in the state that it is in naturally. Instead of trying to make something better by transforming it into something else, we should co-exsist with the environment and help it thrive as it naturally is meant to do.