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Dear Umbra,

Are white people bad for the environment? Do white people have substantially higher carbon footprints than folks of color?

— Just Understanding Systemic Truths In Climate Emergency

Dear JUSTICE,

If you look at whose lives are most affected by the many harms of climate change, it’s clear that race matters. You can point to the disproportionate suffering experienced by the Black victims of Hurricane Katrina, the high proportion of Latino farmworkers who suffer from heatstroke or worse every year, or the number of Indigenous lands contaminated by fossil fuel infrastructure. Those examples are just in the United States, mind you, and not even a comprehensive list of wrongs! And the immediate question is: Since white people are relatively protected from climate change, does it imply that they are its main perpetrators? 

The answer is complicated. White people are, of course, not a monolith. On one end of the spectrum you have your white mega-billionaires with spectacularly high carbon footprints both in terms of personal lifestyle and professional influence on consumption culture. At the ot... Read more

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