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May 6, 2014   23 notes

Race, Gender, Class and Climate Change

"Environmental inequalities… refer to inequalities that different segments of the population – class, gender, racial groups – experience in their relationship with nature, and more specifically with regard to the effects of climate change. … The environmental crisis, as the IPCC report recognises, is rapidly worsening them.

Environmental inequalities are manifold: your chances of being exposed to pollutions or toxic waste, for example, are much greater if you belong to the working class, or to a racial minority, whatever the country you live in. Similarly, natural or industrial risks are unequally distributed among the population, since flood-prone areas or neighbourhoods adjacent to chemical plants will typically be cheaper, and hence attract poorer families. Of course, there are exceptions, but the overall picture is clear. …

Environmental inequalities not only exist inside countries, but between countries or regions of the world. “Ecological debt” is a notion social movements from the global south have put forward in the past years. By exploiting their natural resources, and hence by durably damaging their environment, industrialised countries owe a huge debt to countries of the south. This ecological debt is much bigger than the financial debt the south supposedly owes the north. Taking it into account would completely transform the way we think about the global economy. …

Intersectionality has been a major theme in contemporary critical theory. It refers to the fact that some individuals or groups, say black women or poor homosexuals, experience multiple forms of domination at once. To the intersection of race, class and gender inequalities, we should now add a fourth dimension: the environment. The climate crisis, no doubt, will increase the weight of this factor in the decades to come.”

- on how race, gender and class intersect with climate change.

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