Destruction from the Climate Crisis- It’s a Social Justice Issue

CW: This article discusses topics of climate crisis, natural disasters and climate refugees which could be distressing to some readers.

Forest Fire Climate change Climate crisis

Just because the damage is not affecting everyone yet, doesn't mean others aren't suffering today.

We need to take active accountability for the impacts of the climate crisis and amend our wrongs that are causing life-changing damage around the world.


What is climate justice?


Climate justice is the concern of inequitable outcomes of the climate crisis for different people and places. To understand this better it’s important to address social justice in respect of the climate crisis. Social justice being the fairness in society, the principles of this include: the protection of human rights; access to essentials; equity resulting in equality; participation of the unheard; and the diversity of voices. Thus, the climate crisis is an issue of social justice as essentials such as safe housing, healthcare and crisis support are not accessible to all, those in developing countries are suffering due to the crisis, with little being done to help as their voices go unheard. Climate justice attempts to remedy this, acknowledging those largely responsible for the crisis, through large carbon monoxide production, are; the US, China, Russia, Germany and the UK, though they are not the areas suffering the impacts today.


What effects are being felt today?


Often with the climate crisis we are told the effects will be felt “in the near future” and according to the climate clock we have 7 years left to fix the damage caused. However, the effects of the climate crisis are being felt now, with Earthrise stating that

"Those who are the least responsible are already suffering the consequences."

With global warming increasing the occurrence of extreme weather events and diminishing social infrastructures for good health, those in developing countries are therefore most vulnerable and are least able to deal with the effects. A result of this is climate refugees, who are people displaced from their homes due to environmental disruption caused by the climate crisis, they may also be referred to as internally displaced people (IDP), often having seen their homes, communities and livelihoods get destroyed. Yet, those areas causing the largest levels of destruction seem adamant about tightening their borders, despite having the capacity to help. Climate refugees are being abandoned to face the damages caused.


It's unclear if this disregard of the impacts occurring in areas of high poverty is due to an issue of class, race or lack of awareness, however, something clearly needs to be done to prevent this now. It’s important to make ourselves aware of the biggest causes and the extent of the effects so we can actively prevent the damages. Earth.org addresses the biggest environmental problems faced today.


Are big corporations avoiding accountability?


At this point we are well aware that 8 Million tons of plastic circulate into the ocean annually, from this, pressures are pushed onto people in the public to make changes, such as individuals purchasing metal straws to prevent the waste of single use plastic. Despite only 0.025% of the plastic contaminating the ocean being due to plastic straws, much of the criticism was placed on this and other plastics used by the public in order to focus blame there, instead of on big corporations who cause the most damage in all aspects of the climate crisis: with one-third of carbon emissions being the result of only 20 companies. Although big corporations went on to utilize paper straws as an alternative, this is seemingly only to maintain appearances as this did not make a huge change to plastic waste, any real accountability is still being avoided.


Where do we go from here?


Nevertheless, the responsibility falling to the public did highlight just how simple it is to make changes like reducing single use plastics in our everyday lives and although not the major cause, this does make a difference and is a positive step towards bettering the planet. Lockdown measures during Covid-19 also showed simple changes such as not driving to work brought positive impacts to the planet with a fall in air pollution. Proving that it's possible for us to live without causing so much damage, we just need to commit to this for long-term solutions. Companies and employers need to recognize their positions with this too and prioritize environmental benefits over tradition they have become comfortable with.


Therefore, pressures need to be put on large companies, through boycotts and protests, along with our own changes to everyday life. As it’s still important that we recognize our own impacts, even if they are lesser than that of big corporation, we hold a share of the blame and need to work towards fixing this as best we can. Otherwise, we are no better than these corporations.


How do we step up to help stop climate change?


Some ways we can actively prevent our damage to the climate includes: limiting driving by utilizing bikes, public transport or walking if possible; being mindful of the energy being used at home; reducing food waste by composting any unavoidable waste; boycotting largely damaging products and companies; and recycling. All of which reduces methane or carbon emissions and continuing the reduction of single use plastic will help protect the oceans. Further suggestions are provided by the UN.


These little alterations can help make a massive difference. Maybe this seems like a lot of changes that will largely impact on day-to-day life, but it’s important to remember there are people elsewhere suffering the effects of the choices we make. They were never given the chance to alter their lives but still suffer the consequences for ours. Please attempt these changes- see if they really make such a large impact on your everyday life- maybe together we can all help save what we have left.