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  • Writer's pictureRuwan

Capture Stands Against Racism

Updated: Aug 4, 2020

Given what’s going on across the globe in light of George Floyd’s murder and the ongoing #BlackLivesMatter movement, as little help as our voice might be, it is important for us as a team to address this moment in history. We would also like to remember Breonna Taylor, Eric Garner, Sandra Bland, Ahmaud Arbery, Tamir Rice, and the other people of colour that have died in cases of police brutality and honor them. It has been a difficult and painful time for many as we try to reckon with the sadness, anger, and frustration with the relentless police brutality against black people in America and many other countries across the world. Just because we are not based in the USA does not mean we can’t protest against this injustice.

We set-out as a start-up in the sustainability space with a vision to make planet-friendly living possible for everyone. Our technology is designed for and used by a diverse group of people around the world who care about our planet and want to take action in the fight against one of the biggest challenges humanity is facing. Beyond this, we use our platform to cover topics including the effects of climate change, science, green tech, activism, offsetting, and much more.

When it comes to the environmental movement, we want to stress how essential it is that ALL voices are heard; activists, eco-educators, and eco-bloggers. The Capture team and investors are made up from people all over the world; Lebanon, Pakistan, Singapore, Germany and the UK, and we have a vested interest in ALL ethnicities being represented.

We cannot call ourselves environmentalists if we don’t respect marginalized communities who will and are already feeling the effects of climate change more so in general than wealthier communities and countries that are responsible for emissions…

This is a big topic, and we’ve put together an article that touches on three aspects of the race-climate change conversation:

  • The definitions of intersectional environmentalism and environmental justice

  • How marginalized communities globally are disproportionately affected by climate change 

  • Celebrating BAME activists in the climate change movement 

When it comes to the environmental movement and combating climate change, we have to remember that in fighting to protect and restore the planet, we need to also protect the people living on it. A definition that we love, written by Leah Thomas, describes the term ‘intersectional environmentalism’ as “an inclusive version of environmentalism that advocates for both the protection of people and the planet. It identifies the ways in which injustices happening to marginalized communities and the Earth are interconnected. It brings injustices done to the most vulnerable communities and the Earth to the forefront and does not minimize or silence social equality.”

Environmental justice is the fair treatment and meaningful involvement of all people regardless of race, colour, national origin, or income, with respect to the development, implementation, and enforcement of environmental laws, regulations, and policies. This goal will be achieved when everyone enjoys the same degree of protection from environmental and health hazards, and equal access to the decision-making process to have a healthy environment in which to live, learn, and work.

But who does climate change affect? Who are we specifically fighting to protect? 

Here, we refer to Leah Thomas’s article again; she writes about her realization through her studies of environmental science and policy, just how disadvantaged black, brown, and low-income communities had it when it came to access to clean air, water, and natural, green spaces. They were also “more likely to live in neighbourhoods exposed to toxic waste, landfills, highways, and other environmental hazards.’ This is where the need for intersectional environmentalism comes in… if we are so determined to protect and preserve our planet, shouldn’t we be protecting people EQUALLY, regardless of race or economic status? She writes more about this for Vogue, asking an important question about racial inequality: Why is fighting for my humanity considered an optional or special add-on to climate justice? 

According to this study, exposure to air pollution is unevenly distributed among different communities in the US, with the white population causing much of the pollution that black and Hispanic communities breathe in. 

But it’s not just air that’s a problem… If you’ve paid attention to national crises in the United States, you will have likely heard of Flint, Michigan, where a water crisis began in June 2013. A state-appointed emergency manager decided in June 2013 to switch Flint’s water supply to the Flint River as a way to cut costs. Once the switch was made, the water was not treated against corrosion, which allowed lead and other contaminants to leach into residents’ water. The residents of Flint noticed the change in water quality almost immediately, and started to complain about it. Their concerns were dismissed until October 2015 (yes, 2 years later), when the state officially acknowledged water contamination. There was public uproar. 

Paul Mohai, a professor at the University of Michigan School for Environment and Sustainability, began studying environmental justice in the late 1980s, just a few years after the movement began. He has conducted several studies that confirmed “Certain communities are disproportionately burdened by environmental contamination and health risks. Like Flint, those places tend to be locations where poor people and people of color are concentrated.”

Let’s talk about green spaces. Throughout quarantine and lockdown periods, many governments have advised people to take a socially-distanced breather outside. Go for a walk in your city and observe nature re-establishing its dominance. Enjoy those precious green spaces outside and learn to better appreciate their surroundings. These are sentiments that many marginalized communities can’t enjoy, given their lack of access to natural spaces. 

A study conducted by a team of researchers at the University of British Columbia, published earlier this year in the journal Landscape and Urban Planning takes a “deep dive into how access to parks and green space varies by class, education, race, and other key variables. This study gathered data from 10 U.S metro areas: New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Houston, Seattle, Phoenix, Indianapolis, Jacksonville, Portland, and St. Louis. The study demonstrates that people having access to green spaces reflects broader class and racial divides. A steeper income and higher education level were found positively associated with access to green space. 

Beyond the United States, BIPOC (Black, Indigenous & People of Colour) communities will also be disproportionately affected by the climate crisis. Climate change is expected to affect every country in the world in some way, and already is in many parts of the world, but there will be harder hit regions. For example, the inhabitants of the Marshall Islands will have to reckon with powerful tropical cyclones, damaged reefs and fisheries, worsening droughts, and sea-level rise, forcing them to navigate an entirely new reality. In the future, they may need to relocate or build a new island. 

[Quick side note: If you want to see how your city’s climate could change if carbon emissions continue to rise, check out this simulator. A little scary, but important to know. Maybe it’s time to start planting cactus instead of shrubs.]

According to Time magazine, these six places stand to suffer the most from climate change. The places, in order, are: Lagos, Nigeria, followed by Haiti, Yemen, Manila, Philippines, Kiribati, and the United Arab Emirates. As you can see, these countries are all BIPOC communities. 

They are some of the least equipped countries in terms of dealing with the effects of climate change in the form of drought, increasingly rough weather conditions, rising sea levels, and drastically high temperatures. Agricultural communities will greatly suffer and possibly never recover if climate change continues running its dramatic course. Developing countries, places racked with poverty, and countries with ineffective governments often face the gravest risk from the changing climate. They do not have the systems in place to fight this, without assistance from the developed countries that often emit the most. Here’s an article with the breakdown of how high the emissions of the world’s countries are (to really drive the point home...)

If you feel the urge to help some of these communities prepare for some of the effects of climate change, Mercy Corps is a great place to start. They are helping people adapt to climate change by considering the challenges each community is facing and developing localised solutions that will make the biggest impact. In order to create real and lasting change, the social, economic and political realities underpinning climate change must be addressed, in addition to mitigating the effects on the ground.

So finally, when it comes to social and environmental activism, the environmental movement has largely been a white-centric and privileged one, with BAME activists many times being left-out (or cropped out) of the conversation. This has to change. Their voices MUST be heard, with the same level of attention given to white bloggers, eco-influencers, activists, and eco-educators.

The Guardian wrote an article about BAME activists in the United Kingdom and how often their voices are ignored on the global stage. The story of Vanessa Nakate, a Ugandan climate activist, is indicative of this erasure. In January, after she posed for a photo in Davos alongside Greta Thunberg and several other white climate campaigners, the Ugandan activist Vanessa Nakate was dismayed to see that the Associated Press news agency had actually cropped her out of the image

Things aren’t always as they are fed to us... the sustainability movement may have been perceived as a white, middle-class pursuit, but this is in fact quite untrue. Across the UK, BAME people are at the frontlines of the fight against the climate crisis. Their efforts are being recognized by the Climate Reframe Project, an initiative that specifically spotlights BAME voices in climate activism, funded by the Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust and the Solberga foundation. Journalist Sirin Kale speaks to the activists on this list and finds that “many of the people [she] speak[s] to have at times felt excluded.” 

For example, Nish Doshi, a 32-year-old climate justice organizer from Edinburgh, who is non-binary often finds themselves the only BAME person in the room at Cop26 organizing meetings for civil society… “There will be 50 or 60 people there, and hardly any people of colour… They don’t even think about that at all.”

There are many BAME activists who feel a direct connection to the climate change cause because they have family members living in the vulnerable global south, who will be severely affected by the climate crisis. Fatima Ibrahim, the 27-year-old co-director of the Green New Deal UK, which is lobbying for the British government to put the climate crisis at the heart of the economic system, always knew that climate activism would be important to her life. Being of Somalian heritage, her family were refugees, moving to the UK from Canada when she was nine. She says, “Coming from a refugee family made me aware of everything that was going on in the world. And it became clear to me that climate change was the biggest threat to people everywhere. If you care about injustice or refugees, all of those things will be 100 times worse if we don’t deal with the climate crisis.”

All in all, the fight for racial equality and the environmental movement are one and the same. If we are going to fight to protect the environment, we must protect ALL people EQUALLY across the world, being especially mindful of the communities that will be disproportionately affected. 

Capture stands against all forms of racism. Being a diverse group ourselves, we pledge to help uplift the voices of BIPOC communities, and empower people across the world, of all colours and backgrounds, in their climate action. 

We’ve put together a list of resources on anti-racism efforts and more information about environmental justice and intersectional environmentalism for those who are interested:


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