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Santa Clara University lecturer: White supremacy is behind climate change

A “studies” academic has struck again, this time claiming that climate change/global warming is due to that which can be blamed for virtually anything: white supremacy.

Writing in Earth Island Journal, Environmental Studies professor Theodore Grudin begins by tying the climate crisis to the alleged routine killings of black people by police and white supremacists: “How did the world arrive at a place where both nature and humanity suffer so severely?”

The rhetorical coup de grâce: “Did racism not only fuel horrific violence, but also global warming itself?”

White supremacy, Grudin argues, relies on the “accumulation of wealth and power” for only a select few (Caucasians, of course) via the subjugation of other “racialized, gendered, and other socially constructed categories.” Climate destruction was “done to us” by the fossil fuel industry (as if demand for its products played no role).

The Bible and even the environmentalist movement aren’t spared by Grudin. White supremacy uses the former to justify man’s “dominion over the world and its creatures,” while the “much revered” environmental leader John Muir noted how a “pristine wilderness” should take precedence over a “dirty civilization.”

From the essay:

The underlying tenet of White supremacy is one of conquest and control: It is the idea of a chosen people who possess, by some divine right, unlimited license to use or destroy other peoples and places. Supremacy writ large posits a false hierarchy onto the world, which leads to pain and destruction. It is this destructiveness and chauvinism of White supremacy that allowed for, and indeed, defined, the most environmentally destructive behaviors of the last several centuries. …

Ecological destruction is very much a human, moral crisis; it demands the heart and the mind to re-imagine compassion not only for the planet, but for our fellow humans as well. When frontline communities are treated as sacrifice zones, the whole planet becomes a sacrifice zone, both morally and ecologically — and this painful cycle must be stopped.

While racism and the climate crisis will never be simple problems to solve, they are part of the same chain-linked fence that incarcerates and derails justice and sustainability. To fight injustice, we must, among other things, fight the climate crisis. And to fight the climate crisis, we must dismantle White supremacy and its destructive arrogance towards humanity and nature.

According to his personal website, Grudin teaches the courses “Environmental Thought,” “Green Rhetoric” and “Nature & Imagination,” and his research focuses on how the “cosmologies of ‘nature’ have been conceived and reproduced in American society.”

Read the piece.

MORE: Prof: White Christians deny climate change while west coast burns

MORE: Bard College celebrates MLK Day w/climate change ‘oppression’ artists

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About the Author
Associate Editor
Dave has been writing about education, politics, and entertainment for over 20 years, including a stint at the popular media bias site Newsbusters. He is a retired educator with over 25 years of service and is a member of the National Association of Scholars. Dave holds undergraduate and graduate degrees from the University of Delaware.