This is a summary of a paper I will be presenting at a Sociology conference in Montreal, on June 1st -
A burgeoning array of activists, organizers, and critics are adopting and circulating “climate justice” goals and critiques. These proponents of climate justice claim that groups who are less responsible for global warming also tend to be more vulnerable to these and other climate changes—which some climate justice advocates also see as outcomes of market systems (such as carbon trading). Focusing on gender and race inequities, I will convey how these forms of inequality are bound up with purported causes and consequences of climate change. The gendered injustices I will address include additional burdens borne by women who are responsible for gathering water amidst droughts, as well as food from failing crops. Interrelated climate vulnerabilities—if not ongoing hardships—experienced by Africans, Inuit peoples, and other indigenous groups, all are pertinent instances of climate injustices along race lines which I will discuss. Although climate justice proponents usually highlight international economic disparities, gender and race injustices also are important sides of climate justice concerns and critiques, as I will explain. My overview will bridge various manifestations of the term “climate justice,” while offering a framework that is compatible with some other potential instances of climate justice approaches.
I also delivered an earlier version of this during a Research Day, in my Sociology department.
A key point which the abstract doesn’t convey is the emphasis that I placed on market factors during the presentation — even as I focused on racism and patriarchy.
Update (March, 2011) –
Starting this abstract with “burgeoning array” comes across as being too pompous. There was bound to be some awkwardness involved in trying to talk about the (then) largely non-academic climate justice movement in a professional-scholarly context, but I think that I over-compensated when I started the abstract with those words.
“Wild food is plants and animals that are not farmed, grown, or raised for human consumption. Wild food is nutritious, and finding it makes you more aware of your environment. Wild food is all around us, even in urban environments, most just overlook it and disregard it as weeds and nuisances. The dandelion is the prime example of that mentality. Dandelion greens can be eaten before the plant blooms and becomes bitter, the bright yellow flowers can also be eaten or fermented into dandelion wine. Dandelion roots can be roasted and ground into a tasty coffee substitute. Instead of gathering these plants many people poison them with dangerous herbicides to maintain their monoculture lawn. Incorporating wild food into your diet will broaden your pallet and lead to exciting adventures. When gathering, it is important to know exactly what you have before you eat it, and the proper way to prepare it. One part of a plant may be delicious while another part is poisonous. Field guides are great, an expert you can personally learn from is better.”
“All of a sudden, you can see things — food — where there wasn’t any before. The weed you might be stepping over of the sidewalk with out even noticing — that’s purslane, and its stems and leaves are great in salad or you can cook it up. It’s packed with iron, beta carotene, Vitamin C and other healthy stuff. It’s also a secret source of omega-3 fatty acids.”
“The industry says that this seal of approval is all about helping today’s busy shoppers save time. No need to read those tedious lists of ingredients on the backs of food boxes, bottles, jars and cans, for the simple green checkmark is your one-glance reassurance that you’re making the smart nutritional choice.”
“You know, smart choices like Froot Loops, Fudgesicle bars and Frosted Flakes. Yes, all of these sugar-saturated concoctions and many more have received the industry’s good-for-you checkmark.”
“What we have here is yet another corporate PR scam. This supposedly independent nutritional certification program was created and is paid for by such purveyors of unhealthy sugars, fats, salt and chemical additives as Coca-Cola, ConAgra, General Mills, Kellogg’s, Kraft and PepsiCo. Each of them pay fees of up to $100,000 a year to get to use the Smart Choices label, and the fees are based on the total sales of products that bear the label.
This means that the more food items certified by the Smart Choices program, the more money it collects, which gives it an incentive to apply the label liberally. Thus, we get such absurdities as this: ‘light’ mayonnaise, which contains less fat than regular, has been granted the better-for-you check mark; but so has regular mayonnaise!
This Diggers’ Song video was posted during the summer Climate Camp in England -
With that song, these Climate Campers have affiliated themselves with previous attempts to share and maintain “a common treasury for all” — which some simply would describe as a “commons.”
Like the Diggers, the Climate Campers rally around common environments — protected or claimed through civil disobedience, and other activism. At a very basic level, their goals and tactics are similar.
But the Climate Camps and the Diggers have approached these common environments from different angles. While the Climate Campers have been more inclined to approach fields as meeting places, and as launching-off points for nearby protests, the Diggers attempted to claim lands that could be farmed in common. They mainly were after agricultural lands which they might have used to sustain farming collectives. Food concerns have not been central at Climate Camps, but food issues are not completely off the ‘map’ at Climate Camps either — as this Climate Camp TV video about fruit smoothies indicates. Yet, as Climate Campers have focused on greenhouse gases, and on other fossil fuel pollution released into our common atmosphere, it seems that they haven’t devoted much attention to emissions from industrial agriculture, and other mainstream food systems. (Here is a post that addresses interconnections between food systems and greenhouse gas emissions — approached through generalized statistical estimates.)
I’m raising those points about distinct focuses and limitations to compare the two approaches to common environments.
A New Urbanism video -
(… “Annie Novak and Ben Flanner have been farming the rooftop of a Brooklyn warehouse since May 2009 and the 6,000 square-foot farm has over 30 different varieties of vegetables.” …)
Since at least a few of those write-ups mention or promote commercial approaches to distributing local food, I briefly will say that -
We also can barter with food products; or we just give them away. And there are alternative economic models that our food products could be worked into.
(An alternative economic model is part of Inclusive Democracy proposals, for example.)
The “strike opens our eyes to the awful levels of waste we produce.”
“They call it a work stoppage, but almost anyone can take it as an excuse to slow down and think.
At a local café, I drink coffee that’s arrived here in bean form from afar on a huge metal bird; I finish and put my cup in a bin, having no need ever to think of it again. It will simply… disappear.
Except, this time, it doesn’t. The cups, the wrappers, the refuse – the things we’ve been refusing to think about – sit there, reminding us that there are many wizards who work this magic for us, often behind the curtain of night. The breakdown of a machine proves the best way to observe how it works.”
“Even now, striking, garbage collectors are providing a sort of public service. As trash mounds grow in the rinks and pools of local parks, we are faced (nosed, specifically) with the reality of how much we throw away and the lives we lead in pursuit of the privilege to do so.”
“There’s a poetry to parks being chosen as dumps, a chance to see how connected things are.”
A SPECTER is haunting our cities: barren landscapes with foliage and flowers, but nothing to eat. Fruit can grow almost anywhere, and can be harvested by everyone. Our cities are planted with frivolous and ugly landscaping, sad shrubs and neglected trees, whereas they should burst with ripe produce. Great sums of money are spent on young trees, water and maintenance. While these trees are beautiful, they could be healthy, fruitful and beautiful.
WE ASK all of you to petition your cities and towns to support community gardens and only plant fruit-bearing trees in public parks. Let our streets be lined with apples and pears! Demand that all parking lots be landscaped with fruit trees which provide shade, clean the air and feed the people.
FALLEN FRUIT is a mapping and manifesto for all the free fruit we can find. Every day there is food somewhere going to waste. We encourage you to find it, tend and harvest it. If you own property, plant food on your perimeter. Share with the world and the world will share with you. Barter, don’t buy! Give things away! You have nothing to lose but your hunger!
Basically, permablitzes are community landscaping events, during which land is re-worked based on permaculture principles. Permablitzers generally have been re-working others’ private property (e.g. their backyards) during these events
(so far, at least).
“For those who haven’t been to one, a permablitz is a kind of one day permaculture-styled backyard (or frontyard) makeover, with free workshops, fun and food — all based on volunteerism and a model of reciprocity. Anyone can come, and for many it’s their first experience with permaculture design or food gardening. If you come to three or so, we can help organise one at your house.”
“They can be fantastically good days helping people on the road to some serious food production, and some beautiful gardens can result.
“The permablitz concept started here in Melbourne in 2006 through a collaboration between permaculture student/teacher Dan Palmer and a South American community group in Melbourne’s outer eastern suburbs. I was lucky enough to be involved in the first one thanks to my friendship with Dan. Since, we’ve blitzed all around the city, with renters, in housing estates, on big properties, on tiny ones, in community gardens and schools”
“Nobody funds us — so far our efforts organising and administering blitzes (except working with the Dandenong Development Board, and running courses) have been entirely voluntary. There’s an evolving loose knit crew of people who chip in. We’re looking at incorporating as a non-profit soon though so some of this will be a bit more formalised soon.”