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Negative Impact of Colonialism on Today’s US Society

The process of colonization of the world was long and devastating. Many nations underwent significant changes in their economies, politics, societies, and environments. European nations controlled colonialism in such regions as Africa and North America. The growth of the colonial impact was characterized by a variety of positive and negative outcomes. In this paper, attention will be paid to one of the most negative impacts of colonialism – the environmental challenge – that can still be seen in U.S. society. In its intention to improve the quality of life, the American population continues contributing to the development of many environmental issues like deforestation, pollution, and depletion of natural resources, rooted in the colonial period.

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Several European countries initiated colonialism in Africa and North America in the 17th century for several purposes, including the discovery of new lands, the establishment of trade relations, national pride, and Christianity propagation. The rivalry was observed between such countries as Spain, France, and England, and the new American land was the cherished goal. A number of economic, social, and environmental changes challenged Native Americans, and the desire to own the land officially caused the creation of private property and inappropriate natural resource use.

Europeans wanted to find as many raw materials for different industries as possible. Instead of searching for the required resources at home, they used an American territory. In addition to human rights denial, injustices covered non-human aspects such as the natural environment (Crook et al., 2018). As a result, forests were cleared so the invaders could have enough timber for building houses and ships, and soil erosion brought fishing problems and climate changes. Crook et al. (2018) concluded that such processes as over-exploitation of land, uncontrolled eradication of water resources, and desecration of people’s ties with their beliefs and habits provoked ecological and genocidal consequences. Native Americans were no longer able to protect their rights and, what is more important, the land that was a true source of human life.

Although many people could believe that racism is the most negative impact of colonialism that is seen in modern U.S. society, the environmental issue remains to be of more serious importance today. Human relationships could be controlled by effective political leaders and policy-makers. However, the way of how the nature of the United States is tested and deteriorated is out of any control. Environmentalists continue discussing available alternatives to protect natural resources. However, colonialism showed that power is determined by way of how people could use all available resources, either human or non-human (Crook et al., 2018). The United States strives to be a global leader, and the environment is the price that has to be paid in the form of deforestation, air/water pollution, and natural resource depletion.

In general, some outcomes of colonialism are still observed in modern society. Economic, social, and political development depends on how people establish their and introduce agreements. Native Americans understood how it was crucial to respect the land and its resources in order to survive with dignity. Unfortunately, colonizers destroyed many beliefs, traditions, and customs and used their power for glory. They showed how to use natural resources without giving something in return, and Americans followed the same example in their specific way. The environmental challenge is a serious burden for the United States today, and colonialism is its main root.


Crook, M., Short, D., & South, N. (2018). Ecocide, genocide, capitalism and colonialism: Consequences for indigenous peoples and glocal ecosystems environments. Theoretical Criminology, 22(3), 298-317.

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