Guest essay by Eric Worrall
Too much focus on protecting white polar bears, not enough focus on protecting “marginalized communities”.
Fighting Climate Change Means Fighting Inequality And Intolerance
No issue exists in a vacuum, including climate change.
By Phil Newell
07/03/2018 11:34 am ET
Prejudice undermines science
Last month, Nexus Media reported on a study that found that in the years after Barack Obama took office, white Americans were less likely to see climate change as a serious problem. The finding held even after controlling for partisanship, ideology, education, church attendance and employment. The study further noted a link between racial resentment and climate change denial. While this research leaves many questions unanswered, its findings accord with the experience of many people of color who work on climate change.
A lack of diversity undermines advocacy
Like scientific bodies, large environmental groups are guilty of a lack of diversity. These organizations are largely bereft of the talents and perspectives of people of color. For years, advocates have focused on threats to polar bears while ignoring the more immediate and disturbing threats that air pollution and climate change pose to marginalized communities. African-American children, for example, die from asthma attacks at ten times the rateof their white peers, and yet Americans are more likely to see climate change as an environmental issue than a public health issue.
University of Michigan sociologist Dorceta Taylor explained how green groups should address this disparity in a recent interview with Yale360. “One of the things they should be doing is stop being so afraid of people of color, and meet them, interact with them, cultivate them, and start recruiting them,” she said. “If all the people I talked to, and knew, and interacted with were black, no one would take me particularly seriously — I have to engage multi-culturally.”
Xenophobia obscures the suffering of climate refugees
It is impossible to ignore the allegations of drugging, water contamination and physical and mental abuse of children at the hands of the American government. The separation of immigrant families will likely have long-term psychological ramifications on these children. This is a crisis of humanity and, like most everything else, it too has a climate connection.
Misogyny and heteronormativity hamper our responses to climate change
I’m must say I’m impressed by Phil’s effort, he clearly spends a lot of time late at night sitting up thinking about the interconnections between various issues.