April 2022

My response to Mark Goldthorpe’s discussion about the word ‘Justice’ in connection with climate change. Please see ClimateCultures blog – Environmental keywords

Global climate change induced partly by human activities raises serious issues of justice between the present generation and future generations, and between communities within future generations. In using the planet’s resources for our own benefit, we may pass many of the costs to future generations in the form of climate change and the need to adapt to such change.” Dr. E. B. Weiss 1987

Dr Weiss’s paper to a conference “developing policies for responding to future climatic change” in 1987 was an early example of the word ‘justice’ being used when reflecting on human induced climate change:

In the intervening 35 years scientists across the globe have examined, reported and warned about the consequence of fossil fuel burning. This consequence is now a reality unfolding rapidly in our time (IPCC, 2022) …and yet those who are held up to be guardians of justice, such as our police forces, our laws and our governments, are intent on suppressing the scientists’ knowledge. Yesterday, 8 April 2022, 1000 scientist (Scientist Rebellion, 2022) across the globe took to the streets in a day of action follows the IPCC Working Group Report released Monday, 4th April 2022, ‘which details the harrowing gap between where society is heading and where we need to go’ (Kalmus, 2022). Many of these top scientist were arrested for seeking justice for humanity’s next generation. 

I reflect with many who are deeply contemplating the meaning of Environmental Justice. We recognise it is a big beast…multi-faceted and multi-disciplinary and highly political…operating, or not, at every level of society. Upon reading of the scientists’ plight I ponder what more has to be done to convey the serious issues of climate injustice unfolding. The world is on ‘fast track to climate disaster’, sais UN Secretary General. Somehow the urgency must be understood and heard. The big question for any artist is how can they join hands, hearts and minds with the scientist and build a just world for rivers, flora, fauna and future generations. It seems imperative our work as artists, as communicators, must be in partnership with the scientists as much as in partnership with nature itself. We can work at a local level. Artists and scientist together should be designing walkable environments, pushing for electric public transport, green roofs and facades and promoting urban agriculture, parks and rural wild spaces all bringing significant additional benefits of air purity, health maintenance and improved environment in addition to lowering of carbon emissions. 


IPCC. (2022) At: https://www.ipcc.ch/working-group/wg3/ (Accessed on 8 April 2022)

Kalmus P. (2022) At: https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2022/apr/06/climate-scientists-are-desperate-were-crying-begging-and-getting-arrested (Accessed on 8 April 2022)

Scientist Rebellion. (2022) At: https://twitter.com/search?q=%23ScientistRebellion&cn=ZmxleGlibGVfcmVjcw%3D%3D&refsrc=email (Accessed on 8 April 2022)

Weiss E.B. (2008) At: https://scholarship.law.georgetown.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=2637&context=facpub (Accessed on 8 April 2022)

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