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?"

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"how environmentalism manifests as racialized violence."

or how stamp collecting manifests as racialized violence maybe, or banana split making.

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Cant Stop the Macedonian Signal's picture

@ban nock

You see, environmentalism is bad, mean, racist elitism. It exists to make sure black people aren't given a good job connected to the fossil fuel industry. It's there so that rich white people can look at pretty trees. In order to make the space to create a pretty landscape, they need to deny lots of people of color well-paying long-term jobs, but they don't care, because people of color aren't people to them.

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"More for Gore or the son of a drug lord--None of the above, fuck it, cut the cord."
--Zack de la Rocha

"I tell you I'll have nothing to do with the place...The roof of that hall is made of bones."
-- Fiver

Cassiodorus's picture

@Cant Stop the Macedonian Signal

You see, environmentalism is bad, mean, racist elitism. It exists to make sure black people aren't given a good job connected to the fossil fuel industry.

Ray is trying hard not to make that her message. Still..

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"Freedom is always, and exclusively, freedom for the one who thinks differently.” -- Rosa Luxemburg

Cant Stop the Macedonian Signal's picture

@Cassiodorus

once put on Buffy the Vampire Slayer:

Yes, but why is it *here*?

In other words, why is this paper in Scientific American? Are there studies and stats in there that provide evidence that it's a rare black person who feels anxiety over climate change? Are there stats that indicate that black people are "suffocated" by white people's response to climate change--by the particular response of white people feeling anxiety? Which black people? All black people on the planet? So the Haitians' response to climate change is not "Holy shit, my home is sinking into the ocean," nor "My heart is broken because my family died in the last massive and terrifying hurricane," but rather "I feel so suffocated by those white liberals who keep talking about climate change. They really suck the air out of the room. Not in the way a bad tornado can, like the one that spun off of the last Cat 4 hurricane to hit where I live, but in another way."

Hmm. It seems like, actually, they're terrified:

Haiti’s Cry for Help as Climate Change is Compared to an Act of Violence against the Island Nation
Haiti’s Environment Minister Joseph Jouthe has compared the climate emergency to a violent act and appealed to the international community for help to fight climate change.

“Climate change is a very big terror in Haiti. It’s very hard for us to deal with climate change,” Jouthe told IPS on the margins of the United Nations climate summit, the 25th Conference Of The Parties (COP25), in Madrid, Spain.

“Haiti is not responsible for what’s going on with climate change but we are suffering from it. We want better treatment from the international community.”

Doesn't sound like the better treatment he's asking for is white people ceasing to express anxiety over climate change.

What about the black people in Somalia, where average rainfall is down by 15%? Does desertification matter to them when they lose their farms, ranches, livelihoods? Do any of them feel anxious about their farms turning to desert? What do the people in South Central Africa, the Sahel, have to say about this? They are facing some of the most extreme increases in heat and decreases in precipitation on the planet. There are already millions of them displaced due to climate change, and there is already conflict because of the resulting migrations. Are they worried about leaving their homes, possibly being killed by the people whose lands they're moving into? Are they worried about the lack of rain and the increasing heat? or are they, too, worrying primarily about whether or not liberal white people suck the air out of a room when they talk about climate?

Do brown people count, or are they nonentities? Do we care about the brown people in the Maldives whose home is also, perceptibly, sinking into the Indian ocean while they labor under a Western-imposed tyrant put there to prevent them from having a climate change activist as president? (not that he was perfect...) Do we care about the brown people in Syria, who are having to leave their farms and ranches as they, too, turn to desert and flee to Damascus and Aleppo looking for work, of which there's not enough?

Actually, what about the black survivors of Katrina? When they think about climate change, is their primary worry what white liberal activists say? Or are they more worried about Lake Pontchartrain destroying the levees again under the pressure of another superstorm?

I mean, seriously. How white people should respond to climate is to ask themselves Who am I? *This* is what black liberation and black empowerment require? That white liberals do more navel-gazing?

How about a nice sea shanty instead? It would be about as useful and a lot more fun.

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"More for Gore or the son of a drug lord--None of the above, fuck it, cut the cord."
--Zack de la Rocha

"I tell you I'll have nothing to do with the place...The roof of that hall is made of bones."
-- Fiver

mimi's picture

@Cant Stop the Macedonian Signal
Sounds like a name from my former husband's tribe. I kinda believe I know who she is. Well no further comment. Is that the new influencer music of the deplorable miserables? Kinda smart business model,

Nothing for Ungood. I am outta here.

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mimi

@ban nock

Well, if the victims were any other race, I guess it would be...

The following ten people perished in the recent shooting in Boulder, Colorado carried out by Ahmad Al-Issa. All of them appear to be white, but neither the media nor politicians have bothered to resurrect their anti-race-hate campaign that ensues when Black Lives Matter riot, or when Asians are murdered in Atlanta.

rest at National Pulse

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The Liberal Moonbat's picture

The people who fell for the Sokal Hoax are now barnstorming the people who REALLY REALLY ought to know better.

Oh yeah, I'm sure Jaden Smith and Barack Obama are sooooo oppressed by the carbon emissions of today's unrecognized (but inherently privileged!) Vincent Van Gogh...

These shitstains aren't fighting racism; they're REVIVING it from death's door!

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15 users have voted.

We live in a society in which "we live in a society" is considered a subversive and vaguely-threatening statement.

In the Land of the Blind, the one-eyed man is declared insane when he speaks of colors.

@The Liberal Moonbat
I heard on WBBM today that the City of evanston IL is going to start making slavery reparations to black residents. Since no one has been a slave for 150 years, there is no way to make reparations to actual victims of slavery.
All this does is stoke White Power advocates.

Hmmm! Since 23andme says I am 0.1% West African and I know I have a Y chromosome genetic marker that originated there, am I entitled to reparations by the "one drop rule"?

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6 users have voted.

I've seen lots of changes. What doesn't change is people. Same old hairless apes.

The Liberal Moonbat's picture

@The Voice In the Wilderness Slavery is commonplace in the world today: https://www.antislavery.org/slavery-today/

There are more people living in slavery today than ever before due to the population explosion - the percentage is smaller (though I'm guessing they're not counting wage-slaves of the sort who work at McDonald's/Wal-Mart/Amazon/etc) - it's just that they're not African-American.

Why does nobody tell African-Americans to "Check Their Privilege(TM)"???

Black Lives Matter...as long as they're AMERICAN. Do Assyrian lives matter? Guess not.
Never Forget: America's First Black President(TM) brought open-air slave markets back to Libya.

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10 users have voted.

We live in a society in which "we live in a society" is considered a subversive and vaguely-threatening statement.

In the Land of the Blind, the one-eyed man is declared insane when he speaks of colors.

@The Liberal Moonbat

Never Forget: America's First Black President(TM) brought open-air slave markets back to Libya.
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6 users have voted.

I've seen lots of changes. What doesn't change is people. Same old hairless apes.

@The Liberal Moonbat

"Racism is not dead, but it is on life support -- kept alive by politicians, race hustlers and people who get a sense of superiority by denouncing others as 'racists'"

- Thomas Sowell

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Cassiodorus's picture

@Blue Republic whose idea of self-interest is totally fake.

Thomas Sowell.

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2 users have voted.

"Freedom is always, and exclusively, freedom for the one who thinks differently.” -- Rosa Luxemburg

Cant Stop the Macedonian Signal's picture

which is apparently the goal.

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?”

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11 users have voted.

"More for Gore or the son of a drug lord--None of the above, fuck it, cut the cord."
--Zack de la Rocha

"I tell you I'll have nothing to do with the place...The roof of that hall is made of bones."
-- Fiver

Cant Stop the Macedonian Signal's picture

interpersonal.

First, psychoanalyze white people and try to fix their psyches. Next, insure that, whether their psyches are fixed or not, they don't say certain things in public. Like the "n word" and "how can we save the planet?" which are both, apparently, interchangeable acts of verbal racist violence. At least, the author proposes the same solution for both of them.

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14 users have voted.

"More for Gore or the son of a drug lord--None of the above, fuck it, cut the cord."
--Zack de la Rocha

"I tell you I'll have nothing to do with the place...The roof of that hall is made of bones."
-- Fiver

We know that poor communities have been victims of industrial pollution. But those are localized for the most part. Climate change damage is wide spread that effects all sorts of communities. Isn't the polar vortex a result of climate change. And all the cold weather reaching south effects everybody privileged or not. Climate change effects will be massive.

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mimi's picture

you longed for. Did you know that having a blank is a black thingy? No? Now you know it, because I told you so.

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5 users have voted.

mimi

The Liberal Moonbat's picture

@mimi ...[Rebecca] Black Lives Matter???

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4 users have voted.

We live in a society in which "we live in a society" is considered a subversive and vaguely-threatening statement.

In the Land of the Blind, the one-eyed man is declared insane when he speaks of colors.

mimi's picture

@The Liberal Moonbat
who is Rebecca? Not my name.
What or who is 1/6-ers? Are these American humans hacked into six pieces each?
What is "influencer culture"? I feel no influencing, nor culture.
"Victim culture"? I feel no culture, nor a victim.

There is no sense in reading here. May be one day you speak English again? It is so sickening to drown in coded words.

Of course I love you all despite all of it. Why am I trying to be polite?

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2 users have voted.

mimi

CB's picture

@mimi
the Bastille United States Capitol on Jan 6. Used like 9/11 to mark an event - but mainly to denigrate.

What is "influencer culture"?
- people that make a huge number of tweets who have a bazillion zombie like followers who need someone to tell them what to think and how to feel about events occurring in the world around them.

"Victim culture"? - people who need excuses to blame for their abject failures in life rather than make the effort at improving themselves.

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Cassiodorus's picture

@CB -- life isn't a game which you succeed or fail at.

people who need excuses to blame for their abject failures in life rather than make the effort at improving themselves.

Nobody is going to care, nor should they, if you "improve yourself" from within the boundaries of a doomed civilization, or for that matter if you don't. The trick is in creating a civilization that isn't doomed. If we don't pull off this trick, oh well, it was fun while it lasted.

(What comes to mind in this regard is St. Augustine, who cared so deeply about improving himself only because he believed in a religion which denied the possibility of Heaven to the vast majority of human beings, not because it mattered to him that his civilization collapsed soon after he died...)

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"Freedom is always, and exclusively, freedom for the one who thinks differently.” -- Rosa Luxemburg

CB's picture

@Cassiodorus

life isn't a game which you succeed or fail at.

"Life is a single player game. You’re born alone. You’re going to die alone. All of your interpretations are alone. All your memories are alone. You’re gone in three generations and no one cares. Before you showed up nobody cared. It’s all single player. - Naval Ravikant"

Success and failure are imaginary constructs and should only carry the importance and weight YOU personally give to them. Of course, you internalize these constructs starting from birth during your formative years for better or worse. Unfortunately some people have come from some really fucked up families. Then, as in all societies, you start to interact with the world around you mostly through the playing of games and contests (physical/mental) with your peers. During this period you start to develop your own personal set of 'rules' that you will play the great game of life with. BUT, here lies the crux of the problem - these 'rules' have to be ones that you have personally developed, not stuffed into your head like a roasted pepper. Also, these rules will constantly evolve during your lifetime.

The Coddling of the American Mind:
How Good Intentions and Bad Ideas Are Setting Up a Generation for Failure

Something has been going wrong on many college campuses in the last few years. Speakers are shouted down. Students and professors say they are walking on eggshells and are afraid to speak honestly. Rates of anxiety, depression, and suicide are rising. How did this happen?

First Amendment expert Greg Lukianoff and social psychologist Jonathan Haidt show how the new problems on campus have their origins in three terrible ideas that have become increasingly woven into American childhood and education: What doesn’t kill you makes you weaker; always trust your feelings; and life is a battle between good people and evil people. These three Great Untruths contradict basic psychological principles about well-being and ancient wisdom from many cultures. Embracing these untruths—and the resulting culture of safetyism—interferes with young people’s social, emotional, and intellectual development. It makes it harder for them to become autonomous adults who are able to navigate the bumpy road of life.

Nobody is going to care, nor should they, if you "improve yourself" from within the boundaries of a doomed civilization, or for that matter if you don't.

That's kind of a chicken and egg thingy. Civilizations are created by individuals. Individuals are created by civilization. Where to begin?

The trick is in creating a civilization that isn't doomed. If we don't pull off this trick, oh well, it was fun while it lasted.

That's much too pessimistic. I have much more faith in civilization. Give it another thousand years. It is still young - kinda like a 2 year old.

BTW, upon contemplation, I think it was the rooster who came first. Wink

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The Liberal Moonbat's picture

@mimi If you don't get the reference, be glad.

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We live in a society in which "we live in a society" is considered a subversive and vaguely-threatening statement.

In the Land of the Blind, the one-eyed man is declared insane when he speaks of colors.

mimi's picture

@The Liberal Moonbat

only 'Bahnhof'.

I wonder when the last train is leaving. I wanna catch him.

Btw. why all you guys and gals speak or understand German?

I just woke up and am already as tired as half-dead. Have a good day, all.

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mimi

The Liberal Moonbat's picture

I shared this with my father (a physicist), whom I've managed to take from "I'd be happy to vote for Hillary" in 2016 to "I kinda sympathized with the 1/6ers" earlier this year (and that just something he confided on his own!). Here's his report back:

"I did find this ... It is NOT in the magazine, thank god. It is in the supplementary material on their website, and it is labeled "opinion". Basically it's click-bait (which is still inexecusable for SciAm) and ... again, it's a (possibly) well intentioned academic shilling for their book. I am considering my letter [to the editor]...."

Cassiodorus, you neglected to mention these details. That borders on 'crying wolf'.

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13 users have voted.

We live in a society in which "we live in a society" is considered a subversive and vaguely-threatening statement.

In the Land of the Blind, the one-eyed man is declared insane when he speaks of colors.

Cassiodorus's picture

@The Liberal Moonbat why should we buy Ray's book if this is the way it's being sold?

I honestly don't have a big gripe about Ray's perspective. That's why I used the word "weird" in my title.

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"Freedom is always, and exclusively, freedom for the one who thinks differently.” -- Rosa Luxemburg

Shahryar's picture

@The Liberal Moonbat

I hate Congress. I'd like to see a better one. I'd like to see people vote in a better one. I don't want to end the idea of representational government which is what the 1/6ers and Trump would have done. Hating Biden and the cop VP shouldn't make anyone think "might as well have Trump for life".

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The Liberal Moonbat's picture

@Shahryar I DO know that wasn't what he had in mind; he didn't elaborate, and I haven't gotten around to asking him to. He probably just meant in the "general fury at a government that hasn't been legitimate for decades" sense. I had to work hard to talk him out of believing in RussiaGate.

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6 users have voted.

We live in a society in which "we live in a society" is considered a subversive and vaguely-threatening statement.

In the Land of the Blind, the one-eyed man is declared insane when he speaks of colors.

The Liberal Moonbat's picture

@lotlizard https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/cry-bullies-robert-h-juliano/1128553460

I just more or less finished my copy; it actually ends on a semi-hopeful note.

May I also point out that this country is full of people who came here fleeing totalitarianism much like this, and didn't go through all that just to let it happen here - and if http://www.cacagny.org/ is any indication, that sleeping giant is now stirring.

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We live in a society in which "we live in a society" is considered a subversive and vaguely-threatening statement.

In the Land of the Blind, the one-eyed man is declared insane when he speaks of colors.

CB's picture

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