What are the solutions to help bring intersectional environmentalism to the masses?
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Intersectionality identifies how individuals might be oppressed dependent on characteristics of their identity, including but not limited to Race, Gender, Sexuality, Ability, and Class. For individuals, the intersection of these identities can impact how they are viewed, understood, and treated. Ultimately this creates different individual experiences of the world, including climate change. Intersectionality observes and analyses the power that creates environmental and social injustices. For example, it recognises that the connection between environmental and racial injustice when toxic waste sites in America are disproportionately located in low-income, African American communities. Furthermore, that Black Women bear a greater burden of chronic diseases that have been linked with exposure to toxic chemicals. Overall, an intersectional approach to climate change understands how climate change is interlinked with other systemic problems such as colonialism and capitalism. Thus, to address climate change we must prioritise protecting people and the planet by tackling wider social justice issues together. Interrogating your own environmental beliefs and how we might be upholding these systems is extremely important, otherwise, we will end up reproducing them.
An important element of intersectionality is increased awareness of how climate change as a political issue interacts with issues of racial and indigenous injustice. Marginalised people who are experiencing environmental and social injustice must be centred in the environmental movement. Moreover, their experiences must not be silenced or downplayed. It is therefore important to challenge myths and attempts to shift the blame for the anthropogenic causes of climate change from the West and Global North to the Global South. A classic example of this is the suggestion that over-population causes climate change. By removing Western-centric and neo-colonialist views of the problems and solutions to the climate crisis, the currently underrepresented voices will be elevated. Put simply, neither problem of intersectionality or climate change can be solved without impacting the other and therefore dealing with minority issues must be elevated, rather than rejected as a victimisation conspiracy or downplayed as identity politics.
Climate change is a global issue that needs global solutions. However, despite the fact that many of the causes of climate change come from systems based decision-making, individual and private solutions are often championed over the far more effective and far-reaching systematic solutions. Large corporations such as Big Oil have been very effective at shifting the blame and shame of the causes of climate change onto the individual. While these corporations must shoulder a lot of the burden, they are not currently capacitated to do so by the systems in which they exist and continue to grow. Individuals can of course make changes to their eating habits, transportation methods or other related behaviours, but ultimately such actions will be futile unless large-scale changes are also carried out. Collective action will turn the tide and bring about the system changes that will truly be effective.
Understand the Importance of Intersectionality
Follow Intersectional Environmentalists
Amplify and Respect Direct Experiences
Join Social and Environmental Justice Groups
Create Inclusive Activist Spaces
Become an Intersectional Environmentalist