Weird article in Scientific American
The day before yesterday there appeared this article in Scientific American: Climate Anxiety is an Overwhelmingly White Phenomenon by Sarah Jaquette Ray.
The primary argument here appears to be that:
The white response to climate change is literally suffocating to people of color. Climate anxiety can operate like white fragility, sucking up all the oxygen in the room and devoting resources toward appeasing the dominant group.
I'm sorry, and I appreciate the good intentions, but so what? First off, politics no longer operates in "rooms," but, rather, online, in the individualized space of single people staring at screens. Secondly, the main issue about climate change is that nobody, and I mean NOBODY, is proposing any sort of practical plan for its mitigation. Neither the "white response to climate change," nor the non-white one either, are practical. At the end of this paragraph, author Ray (to her credit) asks a proactive question:
How can we make sure that climate anxiety is harnessed for climate justice?
Well, one way to start would be to actually propose a practical plan. "Omigod we have to reduce emissions" is not going to work; we've been doing for twenty-eight years now. As Camila Moreno pointed out in Beyond Paris: Avoiding the Trap of Carbon Metrics, the discussion of climate change has been formulated so as to propose "efficiency" as the solution, through what Moreno calls "carbon metrics."
What is the point of "carbon metrics"? The point is that the government and the corporations are to compile resumes of Boy Scout deeds -- insulating buildings, buying electric cars, installing solar panels, minor conservation measures, and so on -- and that all of this activity is to be measured like crazy so as to polish the images of political and corporate leaders while making people with high "carbon footprints" feel good about themselves. None of it will change a thing, of course -- but it will allow those with the biggest egos to look good while wasting valuable time because none of it amounts to having any sort of practical plan.
I've pointed out, also back in 2016, that the way to start upon the problem is by trying to envision the world we want to see and then looking for measures which will in fact get us there. This is what I am calling utopian dreaming, though you might also call it the practical approach. I've described my approach in an article titled Climate Change Mitigation in Fantasy and Reality -- the password to open the PDF file is AddletonAP2009 . But since nobody with any shred of power is discussing such an approach, nobody is discussing shutting down the oil companies or creating any REAL transition to a post-fossil-fuel world, climate anxiety continues to have nothing to do with climate justice.
At any rate, we are discussing Ray's article here, not mine. Two paragraphs down, Ray tries to sound proactive again:
Climate anxiety must be directed toward addressing the ways that racism manifests as environmental trauma and vice versa—how environmentalism manifests as racialized violence. We need to channel grief toward collective liberation.
If we are to channel grief toward collective liberation, we need to define "collective liberation." Sure, it seems commonsensical to argue that regimes which use racial identities as the basis for designated underclasses need to come to an end. That is, in fact, what American society does -- and please everyone read Michelle Alexander's The New Jim Crow as evidence of this designated underclass. But less racism with more capitalism will not reduce climate anxiety because it will not freakin' MITIGATE CLIMATE CHANGE.
Ray ends with a suggestion:
Instead of asking “What can I do to stop feeling so anxious?”, “What can I do to save the planet?” and “What hope is there?”, people with privilege can be asking “Who am I?” and “How am I connected to all of this?”
But this isn't a proactive question either. Climate change isn't about identity. Here's a proactive question for the privileged: "Why is my idea of self-interest so completely fake, and what can I do to interrupt it?"