XOTV WEEKLY: Environmental Reproductive Justice: A Useful Way to Deal with Climate Change

Channel avatar Everything XOTV

Everything XOTV

Pixabay on Pexels
The planet is dying, and environmental activists’ solution is a clock counting down to the point of no return. 
On September 19th, Manhattan's Metronome clock was reprogrammed to measure the amount of time left before the effects of climate change are irreversible. I’m not sure what’s more useless. The clock itself, or the idea our individual actions will save the Earth in the next seven years as the clock encourages. 
The idealism behind reducing individual environmental impacts is admirable yet highly un-useful. It suggests individuals are the main source of climate change, assumes everyone has the means to adequately combat the effects of climate change and neglects the needs of communities suffering from environmental damage. By only motivating individuals to act out of fear, the notion of reducing individual environmental impact becomes more of a self-fulling prophecy rather than real progress. 
To start, environmental activists need to be more cognizant of individuals’ access to participating in environmentally protective acts. By solely focusing on human environmental impacts, environmental activists forget about communities impacted by environmental damage which defeats the entire purpose of environmental advocacy. 
Across varying and intersecting social identities, nearly everyone must participate in systems that have been historically damaging to the environment whether they want to or not.
For a clearer perspective, let's take a broad look at the food industry. Food production creates about 26 percent of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions. Considering most individuals don’t have access to producing their own food, how are they supposed to make a difference when having to participate in a system that is inherently damaging?
This is complicated because everyone needs to eat, yet depending on one's social identities, their access to diets that have less of an environmental impact is different. An environmental activist may encourage individuals to eat less meat to reduce their environmental impact. However, for low-income individuals who are more likely to live in a food desert, finding a healthy alternative to eating less meat is nearly impossible because their access to healthy food is much more limited. Therefore, the expectation that all individuals can participate in collective environmentally protective practices falls short. 
This brings me to a larger point at hand. Environmental activists need to be more focused on the health and longevity of communities affected by environmental damage rather than simply the ways humans cause damage to the environment. 
For example, as a whole, food industries create 26 percent of greenhouse gases, yet this doesn’t consider the effect food production has on communities where food production takes place. A 2005 study found students living near Confined Animal Feeding Lots (CAFOs) were more likely to develop asthma or other respiratory problems. The study also found these students were more likely to be non-white and low income. In this instance, an individual’s decision to eat less meat does not change the fact that these students' health is being negatively affected by food production.  
Not only does environmental damage affect the overall health of communities it also affects the health of future generations. If communities aren’t able to live and produce healthy lives, then what’s the point of advocating for the environment in the first place? 
In the case of environmental reproductive justice, all individuals have the right to live in communities that are safe and healthy. Moreover, their environment should promote safe and healthy access to reproductive care that would ensure the health of future generations. When environmental activists choose to neglect these rights, they fail to take a more critical root at the effects of environmental damage. 
The real issue is people are living in environmentally damaged communities and not getting the support they need while environmental activists are only focused on individual environmental impacts. Yes, the planet is in jeopardy, but environmental stewardship is a lifelong commitment that goes beyond our seven-year deadline. It shouldn’t take an impending apocalypse to make us care about the environment. It should take a desire to prevent further environmental damage that affects our health. 
Current understandings of environmentalism advocacy are simply band-aid solutions for the ways in which we’re trying to make up for lost time. If your advocacy doesn’t advocate for the specific needs of different peoples in different locations, kindly throw it away.

Want more content like this? Sign up for our newsletter here!

About the Author:
Jorge Espinoza

Jorge Espinoza is a Queer, Latinx writer, and fashion lover who loves to think more critically about the world around him. Through writing, he can encourage others to think about their role in dismantling systems of oppression and how they can work toward collective liberation. 

0 points

No comments yet

Be the first to start a conversation!