Othering is a phenomenon in which some individuals, groups, or even nature are labeled as different and inferior from the dominant social group. Othering has fueled the idea that our society is separated from nature and that the Earth and its ecosystems are commodities-something that can be bought and sold- as opposed to living entities with their own inherent identities and rights. From this view, society is understood to be separate from the environment and the material processes of production and consumption that sustain it. This justifies the exploitation of our planet and all beings beyond the capability of restoration. Much of this exploitation and destruction is, in large part, attributable to our fossil-fueled economic and energy systems.
Fossil fuel production and consumption are indeed at the root of the complex ecological, economic, and equity crises of our time. While these crises affect our collective home, the impacts on each community are different. The othering of groups such as racialized communities has resulted in their neighborhoods turning into sacrifice zones for energy extraction, production, distribution, and consumption. As such they are forced to live at the forefront of environmental degradation, disproportionately experiencing the impacts of climate change, and the social and economic injustices stemming from this. Even today, certain alternative energy processes continue this cycle of environmental and human harm
In an energy system grounded in belonging, not only do all people have access to affordable clean energy, but have the opportunity to play an active role in energy decisions and can help shape the energy system of the future. The first step to shifting the paradigm of our energy system is to decolonize our values and structures so that we can begin to reimagine a world built upon cultures of care, justice, and reciprocity.