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Dr. Elizabeth Sawin
Because the latest mass shootings are opening a tiny crack of a conversation about white supremacy in the United States, remember that climate change and white supremacy are also connected.
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Dr. Elizabeth Sawin Aug 4
Replying to @bethsawin
The political party that more explicitly promotes white supremacy also promotes climate inaction. The worldview that sees non-white people as 'other' or 'less than' also frames other species and ecosystems as 'resources'.
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Dr. Elizabeth Sawin Aug 4
Replying to @bethsawin
The worldview that puts white men at the top of a hierarchy of humanity also puts humanity at the top of a hierarchy of living beings, a logic that contributes to everything from over-extraction to the biodiversity crisis to climate change.
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Dr. Elizabeth Sawin Aug 4
Replying to @bethsawin
That worldview prioritizes narrow nationalism. But we can only succeed on climate if every country on earth is supported in developing a low carbon economy where its citizens can thrive. That looks like rich (likely higher % white) nations acting on their carbon debt.
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Dr. Elizabeth Sawin Aug 4
Replying to @bethsawin
In the US, white people disproportionately benefit from the fossil fuel economy & people of color are disproportionately harmed by it.
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Dr. Elizabeth Sawin Aug 4
Replying to @bethsawin
For instance people of color, as a whole, breathe in more health-harming air pollution from fossil fuels than they produce; white people the opposite.
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Dr. Elizabeth Sawin Aug 4
Replying to @bethsawin
Refineries with their toxic pollution as disproportionately located in communities of color.
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Dr. Elizabeth Sawin Aug 4
Replying to @bethsawin
After disasters, including climate disasters, the racial wealth gap increases.
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Dr. Elizabeth Sawin Aug 4
Replying to @bethsawin
White supremacy shows up as well in the implementation of solutions. For example, Black and Hispanic households have less access to PV than white households of similar income levels.
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Dr. Elizabeth Sawin Aug 4
Replying to @bethsawin
I could go on, but you get the point - these multiple crises are not unconnected. They share common ideological roots, and they have the potential to reinforce each other, for instance if white people frightened by climate change lean more heavily into a supremacist frame or...
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Dr. Elizabeth Sawin Aug 4
Replying to @bethsawin
if the economic opportunities in building a clean energy economy fall disproportionately to white people and the racial wealth gap widens further.
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Dr. Elizabeth Sawin Aug 4
Replying to @bethsawin
But the thing about self-reinforcing systemic structures is that they can turn in two directions. Worsening of one element can worsen the other, that is true. But improving one element can improve the other, too.
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Dr. Elizabeth Sawin Aug 4
Replying to @bethsawin
And the potential for mutual improvement is as big as the potential for mutual worsening.
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Dr. Elizabeth Sawin Aug 4
Replying to @bethsawin
Undoing white supremacy in the push to zero carbon increases the number of people acting, the number of homes and businesses shifting to clean energy, the number of neighborhoods where people can live without cars - and all of that hastens the drop in carbon emissions.
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Dr. Elizabeth Sawin Aug 4
Replying to @bethsawin
And, because of how mental frames work, you can't hold an ecological view of interdependence and a racial view of supremacy. It's either all a mutual web of connection or all a giant pyramid of 'better than' & 'worse than'. Movement on one ideology creates movement on the other.
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Dr. Elizabeth Sawin Aug 4
Replying to @bethsawin
These are the promises of the most important ideas of the climate movement from to , these strategies combine the needed scale of climate action with steps to undo structural racism and white supremacy.
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Dr. Elizabeth Sawin Aug 4
Replying to @bethsawin
It is scary how one crisis seem capable of enflaming the other, but don't let the scariness hide the possibility that we can tackle both crises together. And if you are looking for leadership, look for the people who, day by day are doing just that.
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Dr. Elizabeth Sawin Aug 4
There are many, but I'd include amongst the leaders... (and apologies for many others I'm not thinking of right now...)
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Dr. Elizabeth Sawin Aug 4
Big oversight in not including - and I hope people will add others that I've missed.
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Raya Salter Aug 6
Replying to @bethsawin
It’s incredibly important to remember- and highlight- that white supremacy is much broader than right wing extremists, and is a pervasive system that not only works with patriarchy, capitalism but also exists explicitly in “green” movements that exclude and harm POC.
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Raya Salter Aug 6
Replying to @bethsawin
I say this in a well meaning way and as someone who thinks about and studies justice in the context of energy. Colonialism and racist industrialization is how we got into climate crisis. It pervades. I’d like to explore the connection to critical race theory a lot more.
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Dr. Elizabeth Sawin Aug 6
Replying to @EarthtoRaya
Thank you for highlighting this. I spent a good part of my life fuzzy on the distinctions you draw here, but in the last few years of study I understand it at least somewhat better. The work of writers like Ijeomo Oluo and Robin DiAngelo has helped.
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Dr. Elizabeth Sawin Aug 6
Replying to @EarthtoRaya
And also many good conversations with and just observing the approach of partners leading work on climate and energy that centers the leadership of people of color. And yet, seeing one's own cultural blindspots isn't work that's every really finished.
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Dr. Elizabeth Sawin Aug 6
Replying to @EarthtoRaya
If you think I am missing something (in this thread, or in general, or in the future) I'd be most open to hearing it, should you have the time/interest to engage. And meanwhile I'll look at the thread again and think about your comments and see what I might learn.
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Dr. Elizabeth Sawin Aug 6
Replying to @EarthtoRaya
And -- if you write more about the connections of critical race theory to climate change and the energy system, count me among your eager readers! Thanks.
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