Way #22: Climate + Justice

Pachamama Alliance • 22 September 2018
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30 days/30 ways

Way #22: Climate + Justice

In case you missed it in Way #2: when the Drawdown Solution “Educating Girls” (#6) is combined with “Family Planning” (#7) they comprise the biggest Drawdown Solution of them all—Empowering Girls and Women. More than any other single Solution, female empowerment can produce the largest reduction in greenhouse gasses. As Paul Hawken says, “All I can say to that is, who knew? It’s not a solar panel, it’s a woman.”

Think for a moment about what this really means. In the effort to address global warming, as humanity, we have leveraged cutting-edge technology to create solar panels, electric cars, and carbon sequestration systems. We’ve convened leaders and scientists from around the globe to create lengthy documents outlining goals and milestones. Some have even considered colonizing other planets. And yet, as the science shows, the most important and high-leverage thing we can do as a species to address global warming is to respect and empower women. 


Women are being silenced due to economic, cultural, and safety-related barriers that keep them from gaining both access to their choice of education and family planning options. Now consider, where else are voices being silenced? Who else on this planet might have something essential to contribute to our collective well-being, but isn’t allowed the space to thrive and contribute because of the color of their skin, who they love, where they were born, or how much money they were born into?

For this Way, consider the social justice issues that are important to you and take at least 10 minutes today to contemplate and look into how they might be impacting the climate as well. Conversely, you could also look at the environmental issues that are important to you and see if you can find a social justice component.


Why Do This Way?

When we think about climate, it is critically important to understand that climate issues are connected to social justice issues. With a little bit of digging, what we find is that everything is truly connected.


Engaging with This Way

An important part of this interconnection is called “environmental justice”: the belief that no community should have to bear the brunt of a disproportionate amount of environmental burdens and not enjoy any environmental benefits. Generally, poor people and people of color face the greatest impacts of decisions and policies that harm their local environment, and at the same time are excluded from the processes where the decision and policies are made. 

Here are some areas you might consider investigating as you explore the connection between social justice and environmental sustainability:

  • Indigenous rights and rainforest management
  • The right to clean drinking water
  • The right to clean air
  • Natural disasters
  • Food security

The short and informative video below gives a good overview of the concept of environmental justice.

What reflections do you have on the connections between environmental issues and social justice?

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