Climate Change and Race

Let me make clear that I am not a climate change denier. The vast majority of scientists in the field agree, and if the community agrees through peer-reviewed research, then that is good enough for me.  

However, I often hear those talking about the green revolution talking about the carbon emission from the global south. The world is burning, and ‘these’ people don’t understand they have to stop. Luckily, I have learned to stop myself from telling these people about themselves.

The damage to the environment enabled prosperity in the west through numerous industrial revolutions. The resulting empires directly impacted on those people who you now deny the same opportunities for wealth, power and equity. Yes, we forget that we live in a relative paradise because of the wealth plundered through colonialism.

Yes, let me reiterate that I believe action is needed concerning climate change. Yes, I also agree that this should be a collection action because this is a global issue. However, what is that action? As I’m British, let’s look at a section of our imperialism.

In the South Asian sub-continent (a small part over the empire), we (the British) exploited $45 trillion over the 200 years that figure is not adjusted to inflation by the way. That is £343916877000000 (assuming the US measure of trillion). Let’s contextualise that absurdly large figure the GDP of the UK on 2019 $2.83 trillion – that is 15 times greater than the gross domestic product for the 6th largest economy in the world.

Here is some quick maths.

The amount divided by the number of people in the United Kingdom

45000000000000 / 66000000


To pay this amount, each human being in the UK would have to give up £681818.18. Yes. That’s a lot of money. I haven’t even included chattel slavery. 

What I am saying is that you’re asking a people not to destroy the Earth and judging them for doing enough to save the planet, while enjoying the rewards of the exploitation through the damage caused by our governments.

Having various conversations around the environment, it’s obvious that white supremacy inhabits all spaces, including those in activist areas. Often I am told about the overpopulation of the planet and that this must change. I’ve heard about Malthusian principles of sterilisation, population control and even mass genocide, shocking these never are method are never centred on the white middle classes? I wonder why that is?

What I am saying is, yes, it’s essential to the stand for what you think is right; however, when that comes at the expense of race or anything else. Don’t assume that makes you immune to critique.

When teaching the climate change, the omission of (racial) power from this narratives is dangerous. Educators are often fooled into the fallacy of equal standing, this has never been and is not the case.

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