Carnism and Climate Justice

Carnism and Climate Justice
by Moses Seenarine, 01/16/18

Inclusive wealth is the sum of a community's capital assets, including natural assets like fish or trees, but also human health and education, as well as built assets like roads, buildings and factories. A changing climate can reallocate natural capital, change the value of all forms of capital, and lead to mass redistribution of wealth.

"Inclusive wealth" is shifting out of the temperate zones and toward the poles as global temperatures rise. Climate change is thus taking inclusive wealth from the poor and giving to the rich. This reallocation of resources from the global South to the global North should be an essential part of climate justice.

Climate justice advocates view planetary heating as an ethical issue and scrutinize how its causes and effects relate to concepts of justice, particularly environmental justice and social justice. Climate justice is a struggle over land, forest, water, culture, food sovereignty, collective and social rights. It is a struggle that considers “justice” at the basis of any solution. This can mean examining issues such as equality, human rights, collective rights and historical responsibility in relation to environmental degradation and climate warming. Recognizing the fact that those least responsible for climate chaos will experience its greatest impacts is central to climate justice.

Advocates point out that there are racial and class differences in responses to social and environmental disasters, like with Hurricane Katrina in 2006. Katrina culminated in the displacement of 400,000 individuals along the US Gulf Coast and disproportionately affected low-income and minority victims. The groups most vulnerable to the Katrina disaster were the poor, black, brown, elderly, sick, and homeless. Similarly, when Superstorm Sandy hit New York in 2012, 33% of individuals in the storm surge area lived in government-assisted housing, and half of the 40,000 public housing residents of the city were displaced.

Katrina, Sandy, and other disasters show that climate inequalities are horizontal as well as vertical. For example, (i) women face greater endangerment than men; (ii) rural communities are exposed to a larger extent than urban ones; and (iii) groups marginalized because of class, race, ethnicity, migration and other factors are likely to be disproportionately affected.

The global livestock sector is part of the reallocation of the global South's resources to the global North. The food animal industry is a slower and less noticeable environmental disaster than a hurricane, but it is more widespread and involves far greater forms of human and nonhuman animal oppression. Loss of land rights, indigenous dispossession, trafficking and sexual oppression are part and parcel of the livestock sector, so food animal production and consumption are essential climate justice issues. 

Excerpt from "Meat Climate Change: The 2nd Leading Cause of Global Warming," by Dr. Moses Seenarine, [ ]

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