An extended summary of a presentation I will be giving during an Earth Day Colloquium on April 15th, at the University of Western Ontario -
Since the 1960s, Social Ecology analysis has critiqued a wide range of social inequities, a series of interrelated institutions (including government systems), as well as various environmental problems. By the 1980s, Environmental Justice research and social movement activities were raising some similar points about how environmental problems can be connected with social inequality. In this presentation I will compare Social Ecology and Environmental Justice approaches to highlight their commonalities and differences. My discussion of Social Ecology basically will consist of points about the foundations laid out in Murray Bookchin’s works. As I address Environmental Justice discourse, I will focus on its more typical forms, over its initial two decades. Although Social Ecology also has emphasized questions about social inequality, these two perspectives very rarely have been compared. I will touch on the distinct histories of these discourses as I discuss their concepts, priorities, and claims. The environmentalism from proponents of Environmental Justice has been more consistent and focused, across the series of local cases which have received attention. Conversely, Social Ecology has covered a wider range of topics, with far more historical and theoretical analysis. While there appears to be no significant historical cross-fertilization connecting the two approaches, commonalities are apparent, nevertheless. In addition to their shared emphases on social inequality, Environmental Justice and Social Ecology discourses both call for social change that may be beneficial to human beings. However, Environmental Justice reforms (such as calls for “green jobs”) would be deemed to be inadequate, based on the bolder standards of Social Ecology.
That summary had to be shortened before I submitted it as a presentation proposal. I was over the word limit.
The wording also takes into account the context — which has a lot of commonalities with a context where I gave a recent presentation about environmental justice at the campus. More than anything, what I’m getting at right now is that the presentation won’t advocate for aspects of the Social Ecology and Environmental Justice approaches in the way that I would if I were just bluntly giving my personal point of view. This event won’t be a place for that sort of presentation.
A mainstream press article recently announced that there would be a 50 person neo-nazi rally at city hall, here in London, Ontario — the following day.
Before the rally, the press repeated police Superintendent Bill Merrylees’ suggestion that anti-hate counter-protestors would create “problems,” while a 50-person neo-nazis rally would not.
A counter-protest rally and pre-meeting were called through word of mouth. Some people came out to that anti-hate rally because they heard about it at a hip hop show the night before the fascist ‘rally’ was supposed to happen.
This was the online call-out -
“COUNTER-PROTEST THE NEO-NAZI RALLY IN FRONT OF CITY HALL TOMORROW AT 1PM. PRE-MEET AT WILLIAM’S CAFE ON RICHMOND & CENTRAL AT NOON. SPREAD THE WORD!”
Here in London, Ontario a few of us have produced a local version of a statement from Toronto which was, above all, about G20 police conduct and detention conditions in Toronto during the recent Summit of ‘world leaders’ there. The local statement was prepared by Climate Justice London and People for Peace London. And the following pre-amble (which I’m just re-posting verbatim) explains how this statement is connected with the original one from Toronto -
Local activists have prepared this London, Ontario version of the Toronto statement about police tactics at the G20 Summit there. We believe it is important for Londoners to present a unified voice to demand the civil liberties that were attacked in Toronto.
We invite signatures from anyone living, campaigning, or working in London, Ontario, or elsewhere in the nearby region.
Our statement is an abbreviated version of the original Toronto call – with added points about links between London activists, London police, and the Toronto summit. (These added points are in paragraph three, and demands 6 and 7, at the end of the statement.) The original Toronto statement basically offers a more detailed summary of events in Toronto in late June.
We also have made one addition to the text from the Toronto call. In the following sentence, we have changed the words “harassment by police” to “harassment and sexual violence from police” -
“The reports of those released from detention reveal a pervasive pattern of sexual, gender, trans, homophobic and racist harassment and sexual violence from police.”
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.
Basically, I compare Olympics marketing imagery and rhetoric with the living conditions and activism of indigenous peoples here in Canada. (The post is about a Canada-wide context, more so than it’s about Vancouver and the VAN Organizing Committee per se.)
I invite you to skip the blurb about me, at the start of the post.
Lisa helped to edit the writing, and Gwen fixed formatting problems that I had left in there.
I also appreciate other help from Laura, Annick, and Steve.
The post stems from a relatively brief e-mail that I had sent in to Sociological Images back on May 24th, 2009. After writing some thoughts on Flickr posts here and here, I had sent the e-mail to the web site editors to connect the same sorts of native issues to Olympics marketing that already was circulated around here in Canada.
In a “Feminism and Race” Women’s Studies grad course that I was in last term, I also worked through some indigenous and climate justice issues. That course helped a lot with the writing that I did for the Sociological Images post.
Last week, Nick Griffin — the head of the racist and fascist ‘British National’ Party — was given some air time on BBC’s “Question Period.” There were protests, and a lot of controversy.
Here is some selected coverage and commentary -
Brian Wheeler on the BBC web site -
“What did voters make of Griffin?”
(I’m not exactly recommending that article. I’m just pointing it out because I think it captures how the BBC airtime has tended to feed into the BNP.)
This post introduces the U.S.-based Mobilization for Climate Justice, as well as similar critiques and activism associated with that Climate Justice coalition. As I indicate, the organizers in and around that coalition also address a range of energy & carbon issues (including tar sands pollution, and biofuel land grabs) — along with interrelated and more apparent global warming concerns. Their approach to these ecological issues is based on prior environmental justice critiques and activism, as well as wider opposition towards corporations, and other international market structures.
Climate Justice Action is another “climate justice” coalition. They seem to be a lot more connected with countries outside of North America — whereas The Mobilization for Climate Justice is very U.S.-based.
The phrase “climate justice” also is used by various other people — some of whom probably wouldn’t know anything about Climate Justice Action or the Mobilization for Climate Justice. The concept of climate justice was around for years before those two coalitions were formed, so the phrase has wider traction. Of course, the actual uses of that term are somewhat inconsistent; there is no absolute consensus about what ‘climate justice’ is.