What is Climate Justice?
To me, climate justice is the intersection between social justice and climate change.
We already know that coal burning power plants have been built nearby communities of color because more affluent communities, that are predominately white, will not allow this. The white communities say, “Not in my backyard. No! My children will not be breathing in the polluted air due to these plants.”
At this point in time, worldwide, air pollution kills 6.5 million people per year or 20,000 people a day. This is the same amount of breaths the average person takes daily. One life. One breath. Each day, 365 days a year.
Corporations continue to go into communities whose voices are not heard to do their dirty work, literally, because their voices and lives are valued as less important. This has been happening for hundreds of years, and with the onslaught of climate change, these communities are only going to continue to suffer more and more greatly, as they always have.
From record breaking forest fires, to once in 500 hundred year storms back to back, never before seen hurricanes, earthquakes, and devastating floods. These storms and disasters did not come as a surprise to those of us that have been studying climate change.
This is the reality of the world we are living in, and if we don’t choose to act, we all suffer, not only those who have historically been ignored.
The example of Puerto Rico is a good one right now. Currently millions of people in Puerto Rico are without electricity, without clean water to drink, and displaced from their homes, with no plan in place or aid coming from our government.
The privilege here is that most of us have not had to pay attention, and deliberately chosen not to pay attention, to the suffering of mostly brown and black skinned folks across the world, because their pain didn’t affect us. Or so you thought.
I subscribe to the belief that when one suffers, we all suffer. Like Lilla Watson, an aboriginal activist says, “If you have come here to help me, you are wasting your time. But if you have come because your liberation is bound up with mine, then let us work together.” It is time for us to work together.
We are in this together, and we always have been.