The organisation’s recent demo at London City Airport has left many scratching their heads. You may not agree with their conclusions but it is undeniable that non-white people are disproportionally affected by climate change.
As each year passes, people often wonder when will we start feeling the effects of climate change? This is a misunderstanding of what climate change is, it being a slow progression rather than an apocalyptic event. For many people climate change is already devastating their lands, lives and livelihoods. For some, simply getting a glass of water, clean or not, has become a daily struggle, with much of the good work that has been done to improve water sources since 1990 being destroyed. In some places, deadly heat waves that used to occur only every few years are now happening annually. Crop yields for some are getting smaller and smaller. The effects of climate change are even as drastic as devastating communities through war.
Those most deeply affected by such effects of climate change are those who inhabit equatorial regions. The 2011 Arab Spring which shook the Middle East to its core and whose conflicts still rage on seems to have been influenced by rising food prices and water scarcity. Is this even entirely surprising? Looking at the history of wars and revolutions, they often take place during bad harvests, as the struggle to feed self and family frequently results in people turning to any solution to survive.
Climate change isn’t a future event: it is happening now and it’s only going to get worse, quickly. Although its devastation may not seem present yet in northern Europe, the lives of many sub-Saharan Africans and Arabs are being destroyed. People are fleeing wars and resource scarcity, with many of their bodies washing up on the Mediterranean due to tight EU border control.
This horrific situation is where Black Lives Matter’s recent demonstration comes in; their point that climate change disproportionally affects non-white people is true. They were by no means claiming that the destruction of the atmosphere is caused by racism, but instead the circumstances they face are caused by prejudice. Non-white individuals’ lands are being destroyed by the consumer demands of predominantly white wealthier countries, while these very same countries refuse to allow these victims to seek refuge – policies that are killing thousands of people.
You may think that race and climate change aren’t linked. Or believe border controls aren’t influenced by racism. Or that non-white people living in areas with more air pollution is down to socio-economic reasons rather than prejudice. However, whatever your view point, disregarding the arguments put across by the demonstration is ignoring an important debate that needs to be had about the impacts of climate change and, ultimately, our economic and political systems.