An environmental professor at Santa Clarita University in California recently blamed the global “climate crisis” — which he says has resulted in raging wildfires on the West Coast and hurricanes on the East Coast — on none other than “white supremacy.”
What are the details?
Ted Grudin, who earned his Ph.D. in environmental science from the University of California-Berkeley, wrote an op-ed in the Earth Island Journal last week titled, “How White Supremacy Caused the Climate Crisis.”
In the op-ed, Grudin asserted that “embedded in the theory of racial supremacy is the theory of human supremacy over nature, which has brought environmental calamity upon us.”
As Grudin sees it, white supremacy thrives on the “accumulation of wealth and power” of a select few, namely Caucasians, and the “oppression and destruction” of everyone and everything else. White people, he argued, have historically believed that dominance and control are their “natural rights” and have thus sought to “colonize peoples and lands.”
Fast-forward hundreds of years, and here’s the result: Racism, wildfires, and hurricanes.
Here is a selection from the article:
I write this today from California, a state currently besieged, yet again, by historic fires that are raging across the US West Coast just as other parts of the country also reel from the horrific outgrowths of the climate crisis — including deadly hurricanes on the US East Coast. In other places around the country, innocent people are being gunned down by police — and violent White supremacists — because of the color of their skin, or because they stand against the brutality of racism. How did the world arrive at a place where both nature and humanity suffer so severely, and in such a concurrent manner? And are these seemingly separate issues somehow profoundly linked? Did racism not only fuel horrific violence, but also global warming itself?
The climate crisis was and is fueled by a racial supremacy that has long devalued everything and everyone but the “chosen ones.” The hierarchical worldview of White supremacy means that moral value is measured by the profits and powers of that select group, to the detriment of everyone, and everything, else. Colonized peoples and lands are perceived only as tools for the accumulation of wealth and power. Oppression and destruction based on racialized, gendered, and other socially constructed categories are rooted in the idea that dominance and control are the “natural” rights of White people, particularly men.
And what has been the white man’s primary means of conquering nature? The fossil fuel industry.
“The climate crisis ‘didn’t appear out of thin air. Someone did this to us: the fossil fuel industry and the governments that aided and abetted it,'” he wrote, borrowing from climate essayist Mary Heglar.
Before he was finished, Grudin made sure to take a few swipes at other pillars of Western society: the Bible and private property.
Humanity’s biblical creation mandate to subdue the earth and exercise dominion over it (Genesis 1:26-28) has served as a basis for exploitation, he argued. Private property and capitalism, too, have justified man’s need to conquer the earth.
All of this led Grudin to conclude that the climate crisis will never be solved so long as white supremacy dominates society.
“To fight the climate crisis, we must dismantle White supremacy and its destructive arrogance towards humanity and nature,” he said.
It is not the first time that Grudin has written on this subject. Last year, he published an article on Medium suggesting it is time to “connect the dots” between climate change and systemic oppression.
In the article, Grudin promoted the Green New Deal legislation introduced by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) as a solution to climate problems and a way to “save countless lives.”