I have stumbled upon a café in walking distance from where we are staying. Water costs $10 a bottle and gas is $20 a gallon, so I can’t afford anything inside. I went inside because there was AC, but the person at the resister was not about to let me stay inside first because I could not afford anything at the store. It was 111 degrees outside but he said to buy something or leave. Desperate I offered to barter with him, I said I could help since only one person works at a time. He accepted and I have now access to AC in exchange for stocking the gas station, manning the register and pumping gas, I even helped them repaint their sign. It is not a bad gig and the four workers have really opened up to me, sometimes when they are in a good mood they even let me eat the tasty snacks that I have not had access to since I got here.
However, I am lucky they must have seen something in me to allow me to stay, they have not been as friendly to other poor people. This one man that was some sort of traveler, but was traveling on foot in 110-degree weather, came inside to get water. There is no running water in the café, so the only water available is $10 a bottle. He could not afford the $10 water, yet when he came in he already looked so thirsty and beat red from the heat, they told him to get out. This is the type of heartless individualistic behavior the society has fallen into. I felt so bad I spared some of my rationed water with him, it was not enough to get him across the desert on foot but hopefully, it could hold him over for at least another day.
Tourists, mostly from Europe, all of them from the Global North tour on motorcycles and tour buses on Route 66, stopping by the cafe. These rich white people have so much excess wealth they act like we are not in the middle of a drought, they seem to be completely detached from the rest of the world, which is suffering from a global freshwater shortage. They prance in this wretched parched place like it is not an unbearable unhospitable desert, I guess with unlimited resources to spend on gas and water, it is not to them. It is clear they all feel that the world is their oyster, after all, why else would you travel across the world to see a desert that has run out of water? Their voyeuristic behavior was sickening to me, they take pictures of the lack of running water and the state of desolateness that the end of freshwater brought us. Almost all of them buy multiple water bottles all priced at $10 a bottle, it doesn’t seem to faze them when I ring them up at the register for over $100 in water alone, most of them just slide their cards full of endless cash without evening waiting for the total.
These rich kids who waste water (I find myself collecting their water bottles since they leave a swig in each) are only a product of the system they were raised in, it is this system I wanted to touch on. The system of colonization facilitated the Global North coming into the Global South and stealing their resources. These resources, most of them minerals and fossil fuels, were used to build up the Global North in what they called “development”, as if the countries in the Global South who were robbed of their resources to industrialize, were like children and “undeveloped”. Now, these stolen resources are coming back to the Global South from the North, in the shape of climate change to kill us first. Why is it that we in the Global South, who are least responsible for climate change are most affected by the Global North’s behavior? Because of the Global North’s development, they have the infrastructure that protects them and allows them to adapt and mitigate climate change. But in the Global South, we never saw reparations for colonization or climate change, so we are left defenseless and deserted in our own homeland. 1/3 of us including myself were displaced, there is just simply not enough resources left in our own countries to survive, but the Global North doesn’t care. The Global North is happy to see us wither and rot away in our own countries as they build walls and change laws to make sure that we will won’t have sanctuary in their countries even though they owe it to us for ruining our own countries.
So I can’t help but feel a bit jaded when these European tourists come in and spend 100s of dollars of water and gas like money doesn’t matter. Their money probably came from minerals or land that they took from my country or another country in the Global South, and I am sitting here displaced from my country, my existence made illegal and my family having been scattered across the world in search of water. Climate change is a product of colonization, globalization, and capitalism, and as such it has worsened inequalities along the lines of the societal hierarchies these systems created (race, nation-state, gender, class). Solutions that are meant to address climate change that fails to address these systems will only continue to perpetuate the caste systems they created.