by Rafael Hurtado, Little Village Environmental Organization (LVEJO), Chicago IL

We come across problems each day of our lives. Sometimes we find the answer for these issues. Other times, we react by tending to our problems with false solutions, which usually come with future repercussions.

A glaring example comes from corporate America. For decades corporations have treated the planet Earth as disposable commodity. The disastrous environmental policies of corporations over the years have created a profound crisis: Climate Change. Climate change is rapidly changing our planet and our societies and if left unchecked will have grave consequences for future generations. The profit motive encourages corporations to pursue short-term gains and immediate fixes, and tends not to encourage these entities to pursue real solutions to the Climate crisis. We need real, substantive change, which requires system change to stop Climate change. One of the main things has to change is our economy, particularly who and what it serves and why.

When using the term, “Green Jobs” or “Green Economy” some individuals automatically think of natural gas, Biofuels and clean coal. At the World Social Forum recently held in in Tunisia, two key panels, False Solutions and the Green Jobs, Climate Jobs, Now, found it necessary to establish a definition of what truly is an alternative source of energy and food productivity.  Climate jobs promotion it was noted in these sessions must start on the basis of providing real solutions to Climate issues and food sovereignty. Low or virtually no emissions should come from these purposed solutions and anything that can help reduce the cost of food is a must.

False solutions are usually presented by large corporations as profitable answers to some of the world’s issues.  For example in South Africa, the unemployment rate is just over 40%. Three fourths of those unemployed are under the age of 25. Mining is a huge issue in South Africa. Mining industries don’t create “sustainable” jobs, rather they destroy the basis for the sustainable use of the Earth’s resources and therefore destroy employment in the long-term. Corporations use terms such as “more jobs” to push false solutions. But these false solutions don’t just fall under the category of energy and food. We see bad investing in useless infrastructure that disenfranchises our public transportation systems. High-speed rails and mega highways are other forms of false solutions being proposed by government entities and corporations who for economic reasons, push for projects detrimental to mother earth and low-income communities of color.

When confronting false solutions and their proposers, one must always think ahead. For example, in Chicago where I live, our fight to shut-down the Fisk & Crawford coal plants lasted over a decade. And throughout that time, we did not think of what we would do, if and when they were to go offline, and were caught somewhat off guard when change did come. One must purpose a solution of their own, or else, the “solution” with the most resources will prevail. We must focus on educating our communities on these false solutions. Local training makes the process intimate, which allows a smaller chance of outside, bias influence. We also need to ensure that our local struggles are connected to global struggles for social justice and system change.

The World Social Forum in Tunisia provided us with a critical opportunity to make these links. Now we must continue to broaden our base locally, regionally, and nationally to more substantively engage the international movements and develop the real solutions we all so desperately need.