A notorious social activist and author claimed the reason governments don’t take global warming seriously is because the fossil fuel industry benefits from “institutional racism.”
Author and anti-capitalist activist, Naomi Klein, wrote Saturday in an editorial published by Australian newspaper The Saturday Paper that politicians don’t discuss global warming because they are part of racist and bigoted governmental institutions that allow fossil fuel industry to exploit black and Latino people.
The editorial was part of an edited extract from an Edward W. Said London Lecture 2016 June 2.
For the past 30 years, Klein wrote in the piece, governments have refused to lower greenhouse gas emissions despite knowing the dangers. The reason why they ignore possible calamity, writes the author of “This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. The Climate,” is because of institutional racism.
“It would have been impossible without all the potent tools on offer that allow the powerful to discount the lives of the less powerful,” she wrote, referring to the instruments oil companies supposedly use when producing energy. The fossil fuel industry is able to use tools of “institutional racism” to rank people in accordance to their “relative value” as human beings.
The “dirty” and “toxic” nature of coal and other fossil fuels, she adds, “require sacrificial people and places: people whose lungs and bodies can be sacrificed to work in the coalmines, people whose lands and water can be sacrificed to open-pit mining and oil spills.”
Klein goes on to argue that urban neighborhoods – the kind of places frequented by blacks and Latinos – lie next door to coal power plants and refineries. These populations are forced to carry the toxic burden of Americans “collective addiction to fossil fuels,” she noted.
These urban areas, as well as locations in the Appalachian Mountain, are ripe for the fossil fuel industry’s pickings, according to Klein, because they house people who are supposedly lower on society’s totem pole.
This is not the first time Klein has made dubious claims about racism’s influence on alleged man-made global warming.
Klein spoke at length about what she perceives as the intersection of racism and global warming during an event in March on the Northwestern University (NU) campus hosted by the Buffett Institute for Global Studies and co-sponsored by the Institute for Sustainability and Energy at NU. She told the audience of future climate justice warriors that, “austerity, climate change, and racism are all interconnected.”
“It’s become a little trendy on colleges to speak about intersectional politics,” Klein told the crowd. “I really want to speak up about intersectional politics here. We have to get out of our silos and see how climate change, racism, economic inequality, mass incarceration, austerity are all interconnected and how the road we’re on leads to the deepening of all of these crises.”
Klein, who is also the co-founder of the environmental group 350.org, also advised the students at the event to orchestrate fossil fuel divestment campaigns across at Northwestern University and throughout the country.
“Don’t take no for an answer,” Klein said. “We are right up against the deadline, and half measures are not good enough.”
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