Last month, several Democratic members of the U.S. House of Representatives introduced a resolution with a rather unique take on the environmental debate. According to a report in The Hill, the resolution stated that climate change is hurting women more than men.
“Food insecure women with limited socioeconomic resources may be vulnerable to situations such as sex work, transactional sex, and early marriage that put them at risk for HIV, STIs, unplanned pregnancy and poor reproductive health,” read the resolution.
And so we have the latest absurdity under the relatively new and ever broadening category of “climate justice.”
The radical environmental movement is in transition.
Chris Foreman, a progressive writing for The Breakthrough Institute, says the more leftist environmentalists have taken a cue from advocates of the social and economic justice movements. This incarnation of environmentalism links the impacts of climate change with global poverty.
The theory goes that if the effects of global warming create an even greater hardship on the worlds’ poor, there is an even more critical moral imperative to replace carbon-based energy with green alternatives, while imposing a more even global economic playing field.
Foreman quotes Greenpeace International executive director Kumi Naidoo from South Africa as saying, “Look, 1.6 billion people have no access to energy and yet live in regions that are blessed with an abundant solar, wind, wave and geothermal energy. If we can address that problem, we can alleviate poverty and create jobs and move into a green energy future.”
Foreman says the logic is dubious. “Demands for climate justice too often ignore basic practicalities of energy, poverty, and climate change,” he writes.
Foreman isn’t alone. Two more progressives at The Breakthrough Institute, Michael Shellenberger and Ted Nordhaus, say the climate justice movement disregards history and the successes of carbon-fueled capitalism to bring people out of poverty.
“Hundreds of millions of desperately poor people went from burning dung and wood for fuel (whose smoke takes two million souls a year) to using electricity, allowing them to enjoy refrigerators, washing machines, and smoke-free stoves.”
In short, those who truly care about the impoverished of the world should be worried more about how to get cheap, reliable electricity to a remote village rather than using the plight of the poor to advance the nebulous notion of “climate justice.”
Don’t get Foreman, Shellenberger and Nordhaus wrong; they’re environmentalists, but they’re also realists who are interested in practical solutions to global poverty and climate change. In doing so, they avoid the pie-eyed convenience of extremist groups who have co-oped the justice movements.
The great miscalculation of the climate justice movement is that it is rooted in reparations and redistribution, and based on the concept that the industrialized world has benefited at the expense of the rest of the planet, which still has to pay the environmental cost.
What they miss entirely–which Foreman, Shellenberger and Nordhaus get–is that what the world really needs is more development with the cheapest, best available fuel, to help elevate people out of poverty.
Now that would be justice.