The fact that the world will warm by 1.5 degrees is almost meaningless to most people – why would I give a shit about that? For non scientists that means zero, zilch, nada, or maybe just nicer summers. We should be preaching instead about how climate change is as much as an environmental turning point as it is a social turning point – that does mean something, to everyone. Climate action promotes racial equality, gender equality, food for all, shelter for all and a voice for all, not just putting solar panels up. Otherwise it fails. If you dig a little further, very little Climate action is solely about greenhouse gas emissions.
The way the media talk about climate change is as if it is its own entity, separate from the issues of racial equality or classism. An issue limited to arbitrary (in most people’s eyes) tipping points, extinction of creatures people will never see and extreme weather most feel will never come to them.
It is no wonder then, that people distance themselves from the movement – if you, emotionally, care more about gender equality, you will put your time into that instead. The reality is that climate action is feminism, it is racial equality, and so if you put your time into climate action you are putting time into your own equal justice fight.
The reason for this? The fundamental causes of catastrophic climate change – inequality, accumulation of wealth, waste, privatisation, money grabbing, power grabbing and consumer capitalism are the same causes for social inequalities. More than this, climate change is affecting minorities and most unequal groups far more than white British men. Further still, fighting climate change is impossible without equality. If we don’t allow women, or ethnic minorities to help promote change, if we don’t provide a more equal society then the trend of uneccesary waste and consumption continues. Inevitiably, humans will consume more resources than the earth can provide.
This is not about making sure women and ethinc minorities don’t start consuming more than the earth can provide. It is instead about limiting what the privaliged can consume and in doing so, allowing sustainable living.
I know I am painting these incredibly complex historical and deep rooted issues with a broad brush, but if white men didn’t make grabs for power, money, accumulate wealth then black women would be far more equal and we would be consuming far less of the earth’s resources. Simply put – it helps solve both sexism, racism and climate change.
What can we learn?
If you are someone who feels strongly emotionally connected to equality for women, ethnic minorities, low income groups or persecuted religious groups then climate action should emotionally connect with you to – they are both fighting for the same thing.
If that is you, then I am not blaming you. Instead it is the turn of the media, extinction rebellion and other climate action groups to drop useless taglines like the 1.5 degree warnings and illustrate why people should care.
Going forward, do not separate the issues. Know that when you fight for gender equality, you are already a climate activist. If you are a climate activist, then you are fighting for gender equality.