Reading and Listening for Justice: What Climate Justice Means and Why We Should Care

If you missed our introduction to the Reading and Listening for Justice series, check it out here. Read Part 1 of the series here.

Welcome to another post of the Reading and Listening for Justice series. A reminder, you can borrow this book either from the Great River Regional Library or from the Hennepin County Library.

Book:  What Climate Justice Means and Why We Should Care by Elizabeth Cripps

What Led Me to the Book

I was on the queue for a long time to get this book, a testament that this is a popular book right now. While I know a little bit about climate justice, I wanted to read a book that focused solely on the issue. And with bad news upon bad news coming on the topic (we just had the hottest day ever recorded not long ago), I want to continue to learn more about climate change and climate justice.

Why I Think Others Should Read This Book

This is a short book written by a political theorist from the UK. It provides a good starting point for people to think about social justice in our age, and how we must account for climate change in our calculations. The book is broadly about moral philosophy, so it is also a good primer on why social justice matters, and what we as individuals and as groups can do to bring about positive change. The book also does a great job in showing how climate injustice is intersectional, showing us the ways climate change is impacting different people in distinct ways.

Ramblings and Discussion

When I think about social justice more broadly, and climate justice specifically, what comes to mind right away is our collective need to own our hypocrisies. None of us are perfect, but we need to strive to be better people every day, and the only way to do that is take a deep look inside ourselves to understand what we need to work on the most. For climate justice, the priority is on the environment broadly speaking, but to understand our impact we need to zoom out from our everyday activities to understand their impacts. And here is what I mean about owing our hypocrisies: I am writing this blog post from Brazil, after taking a flight here and soon taking a flight back home. I am writing this on a computer and storing this file on the cloud. The energy needs for keeping and sharing this file and the minerals used to build the computer are major factors contributing to climate change. I am not going to sit on a high horse and say “you must do better” when here I am carbon footprinting all over the world. But I want to continue to think about how I can mitigate the impact of my carbon footprint, and I constantly think about what I can do to improve my contribution (or at a minimum diminish my negative contributions) to climate justice.

The book’s author does a good job discussing how we can collectively mitigate our own hypocrisies, and she lays out a good foundation of why small changes can have a big, big impact. At the same time, Dr. Cripps expands on why individual action will never be enough, and how countries and corporations must be held accountable too. One important section of the book includes a discussion on how sometimes individuals may have to have a larger footprint when fighting for climate justice. She goes into detail on the moral calculations we should all try to make.

Whether you read the book or not, I am curious to know what some of your climate justice hypocrisies are. By living in the United States, it is almost impossible to escape climate hypocrisies. Sure, Amazon delivery is great, but the pollution that comes with it is not getting any better. Most of us are reliant on smartphones, but their environmental impact, especially if you are upgrading every two years, is tremendous. Many of us are fortunate enough to be able to travel, whether for business or on vacation, but the impact of travel on the environment is hard to justify (most times). I like these three examples because I am sure all of us are guilty (and find ways to rationalize) at least one of the three. Knowing about an issue is a first step, but what can we, individually and collectively, do more to create a more just world for everyone?