Not all racial groups or communities have expressed the same amount of fear and anxiety over climate change, increasingly also a social justice issue. Climate change is being viewed as responsible for “pandemics, pollution, natural disaster” but only whites seem to be concerned about its effects.
The Scientific American (SA) published an opinion article maintaining that “people and communities suffering [from climate change] most are disproportionately” black, but only whites were worried about the future of our planet.
And because climate anxiety is a white concern, according to the publication, it has become a suspect endeavour. “Is climate anxiety a form of white fragility or even racial anxiety? Put another way, is climate anxiety just code for white people wishing to hold onto their way of life or get ‘back to normal’ to the comforts of their privilege?”
They argue that the white response to climate change has been “sucking up all the oxygen in the room and devoting resources toward appeasing the dominant group”. This may result in whites hoarding resources, limiting the rights of the other races most affected and following a “xenophobic strategy” to save themselves.
“Climate change compounds existing structures of injustice, and those structures exacerbate climate change,” according to the SA.
“It is a surprisingly short step from ‘chronic fear of environmental doom’ as the American Psychological Association defines eco-anxiety, to xenophobia and fascism. Racism is not an accidental by-product of environmentalism; it has been a constant reference point.” Notably, the early environmentalists in the US were “anti-immigrant eugenicists”.
Climate change activists believe that the world is facing the “greatest existential threat of our time” but according to the SA, this claim ignores racial issues such as slavery, colonialism and white police brutality.