If you care deeply about feminism, black lives matter or any other equality justice movement then you should care just as deeply about climate change

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.

LILAC housing – Proof that living in the UK can be environmentally friendly, affordable and attractive.

LILAC (Low Impact Living Affordable Community) is a cooperative eco-housing project in Leeds, UK, finished in 2013. With A unique economic model, coupled with an innovative design and community input, LILAC has shown that the act of conscious environmental living isn’t a choice reserved for the middle class. The site provides a priceless opportunity for those who care about the world they live in, but do not have the income or time to act.

The Problem

Environmental impact starts from the home. Yes the building materials and land have a footprint, but the home is also where we consume energy, eat and travel from, which is why the home is such a crucial building block in the fight against climate change.

Existing in the UK has become a commodity. The rich push us like pawns around the housing chessboard, slowly putting the squeeze on prices until some can no longer even afford rent, let alone think of buying.

Just 40% of adults between 25-34 own the home they live in. In fact, the latter is the average age of a person’s first purchase. Those that do own a property can make the most of a broken system and sit on their property with a bigger wage than most people. Source.

The result is a population, unfairly skewed towards low income groups and ethnic minorities, who are living in temporary accommodations, thrashing to keep their heads above the spiralling rent prices. Only those with a huge income can afford to build ‘eco-homes’ which always seem more like a phoney dick swinging contest, showing off only to others in the green cult, than a genuine attempt at sustainability. 

Spending big on eco homes like these is a privilege only some can afford.

How does it work?

At LILAC, the whole community has the same mortgage, and work together to pay it off, meaning that one person is not wholly responsible for the repayment. Imagine how much more stable you would feel going into buying a house, knowing that there are 30 other people contributing who can continue paying the mortgage off, even if your income went down.

Not only that, but each person pays a flexible rate – 35% of your calendar earnings, allowing those on much lower wages to buy a home. If you earn less, you pay less. 

LILAC gives hope to the countless young people who are daunted by the prospect of skyrocketing prices or even being kicked out their rented accommodation.

The housing market isn’t fair but LILAC proves that this doesn’t have to be the case. You can take that pay cut to have the job you really want. You can live somewhere modern and environmentally friendly without having to double your income. You can help the world, just by living. Buying sustainably doesn’t have to be exclusively for the rich.

What makes it eco?

The community is always the focus at LILAC, and at the centre of this they have a hub. Here they can buy locally grown (often on site) produce, share tools, bikes and vehicles. The whole site is structured towards sustainability – solar panels on the roof, large south facing windows to efficiently heat the house, each made out of strawbale. LILAC then, isn’t just designed sustainably, but it allows everyone to behave sustainably too.

Conclusion

The home is a centre of all our lives and the basis for effective environmental action. In a deeply unfair marketplace only the rich can afford eco-living. LILAC proves that this doesn’t have to be the case. You can live sustainably whilst making sure the homes are affordable with a decent economic model. For you, reading this, consider the possibility of living in one of these community eco housing projects, talk about them, promote them and most importantly, show policy makers that they are worth investing in.

If you liked this article, then please follow my blog, or my twitter and instagram pages for more. If this article didn’t float your boat, check out my other two pages, which are more geared towards those that are less alarmed by climate change, or even doubt it’s legitamicy. Finally, the most important thing is that you use your voice, so comment on this article, speak to your friends or contact me to write an article.

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