When I finished the principle writing on The Economics of Arrival, I started researching a topic that has troubled me for a long time: the racism of climate change.
If you’re a regular reader you may have seen me compare climate change to slavery – something that future generations will look back on and wonder how on earth people could live with the moral outrage of it. The gulf between the lifestyles of those most responsible for climate change, and those who are most vulnerable to it could hardly be wider. The fact that climate destruction falls on those least responsible makes it the most significant global injustice of our time, and it is very much a racial injustice.
It isn’t generally seen that way in Britain. Climate change is neatly filed as an environmental issue, and climate justice is a marginal concern. The racial element of that injustice has been practically invisible. I wanted to look into it and write about it more on the blog, and found that it was harder than I expected. There were no books on climate and race. It was discussed in activist circles and in academic studies, and there is plenty of commentary on localised environmental justice issues, but nothing putting it all together.
I thought about whether or not I should write something myself, and decided it wasn’t my place – surely a person of colour would be a better spokesperson. Then I realised that leaving the issue of race to people of colour was part of the problem, and that I absolutely should take responsibility and get to work. It has been a hard book to write, though it has got easier.
When I started, a Google search for “climate and race” brought up slim pickings. That is not the case today. There are now thousands of articles and statements making the connection between racism and climate change, many of them written in the last month.
The upshot is that I find myself with a book on climate change and race, 80% written, at the very moment that the issue explodes into public debate. And that is why I am rather busy right now.
I’ll keep you posted.