eaching about the climate crisis from the perspective of solutions-oriented critical sustainability means observing and analyzing collective steps being taken by the nations, municipalities, movements, educational, corporate and other institutions as they work to preserve the planet’s various life-enabling systems, not just for the benefit of today’s most highly impacted and least responsible communities, but for future generations – human and non-human – who also deserve the right to live and develop their own capacities.
But how are such actions decided? Who participates and who benefits?
How can such actions be judged or measured for basic fairness? According to what metric?
Such are the difficulties of conceiving and building the new field of Climate Justice Studies.
Thankfully, teachers confronting these questions today have considerable resources at their fingertips, drawn from every field, but especially from environmental justice, environmental studies, environmental humanities, and environmental governance literatures.
Today’s collective choices for confronting the climate crisis are consequential political choices for all living beings on Earth, including those to come.
But the power to participate in these fateful political decisions is deeply stratified: the power to decide, and therefore to live and thrive today and into the future, is concentrated 1) in the global north, among the historically industrialized economies; 2) in the elite political and economic 1% inside of each nation, and 2) in the corresponding global elite of owners, politicians and transnational institutions.
Under these difficult political circumstances, what responsibility do university teachers and students have to study, learn, and support the under-represented in and across nations everywhere whose circumstances define the challenge the most difficult challenge for climate justice studies?
A harsh stratification of wealth presides over these political disparities, thus determining access to environmental values of every type and raising questions of relative justice, or injustice, because we know that facing the condition imposed by anthropogenic climate change means changing our economic, cultural, ecological and political practices.
The emergent field of Climate Justice Studies places this bundle of questions – and others — at the center of its disciplinary impulse: how should we think about the changing these systems, and enabling a just transition to the societies of the future – our collective Next Earths?
What is Climate Justice in this context?
What can NXTerra do to help achieve it?