Open Democracy: “Why don’t we take climate change seriously? Racism is the answer”

Guest essay by Eric Worrall

According to Open Democracy author Sulaiman Ilyas-Jarrett, racist white people are holding back from committing to climate action, because white people are not suffering the full impact of climate change; though the author also attacks climate activists themselves for being too white.

Why don’t we take climate change seriously? Racism is the answer

If climate change directly affected white Westerners, action would have come quicker.

Sulaiman Ilyas-Jarrett
1 July 2020

We have known about climate change for decades. As early as 1992 the threat was sufficiently obvious, and the science sufficiently clear, to justify a UN treaty on the topic. Yet we’ve only even begun to get our act together in the last five or so years. Why?

Race has justified the systematic exploitation of non-white people and their lands, and continues to disadvantage Black and Brown people through both institutional and individual bias. But it is not the only reason that action on climate change has been slow.

But we rarely talk about the impact of race. The murder of George Floyd, and the wave of protests it has inspired, reminds us how Black and Brown lives are often less valued by those in positions of power. An injustice that stretches far beyond the policing system.

The UK has one of the world’s highest historical CO2 emissions, but has borne almost none of the consequences.

Decolonising climate movements

The climate movement itself has a reputation for being predominantly white. In the West, there is some truth to this, though there are also a range of diverse voices doing fantastic work on the subject. One reason for this is that a lot of Black communities have more immediate struggles to focus on. It can be difficult to focus on the thing that might hurt you tomorrow when there’s something else that might hurt you today. 

Another reason may be the lack of representation in the movement, which reinforces the idea that this is a ‘white’ issue. Many people have simply never thought of climate in relation to race, though this is rapidly changing, and many young activists of colour now consider climate a vital issue.

Read more: https://www.opendemocracy.net/en/why-dont-we-take-climate-change-seriously-racism-is-the-answer/

Accusing people opposed to climate action of being racists, without providing evidence to back such a claim, is a pretty nasty thing to do.

Setting aside justifiable outrage at this ugly evidence free generalisation, I was impressed in a purely technical sense at the effort the author made to unify incoherent activist narratives. But you would expect a technically impressive effort from a former Cambridge University Isaac Newton Scholar.

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via Watts Up With That?

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July 2, 2020 at 08:57PM

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