The Surprising Link Between COVID, Climate Crisis and Racism | by Christyl Rivers, Phd. | Greener Together | Aug, 2020 | Medium

I can’t breathe.

Waiting for the tear gas in Portland, 2020, Photo by Christyl Rivers

I can’t breathe

It’s completely surprising. Yet, it is entirely expected, by a few.

Hurricane Laura, this week, smashed up large swaths of the gulf, notably the petrochemical regions in Texas and Louisiana. In Lake Charles, Louisiana, a raging fire sent toxic clouds over an area where people have already been uncomfortably trying to breathe for years.

Many in these areas are people of color. Most are poor. Thousands are women and children.

Climate justice is the dawning realization of many that besides bearing the punishing brunt of all climate crisis disasters, from hurricanes, toxic leaks, lead in water, floods and fires, poor people worldwide are also, often BIPOC. The Black Environmental Justice Network and the Deep South Center for Environmental Justice are just two organizations that have known about it for years: bigotry kills through toxins in air, water, government, and pandemics.

Giant corporations like Exxon Mobil and Chevron have also known this for awhile. You know, the guys who own your world leaders and don’t mind your death so long as their second yachts, jets, and influencers are fully funded.

Speaking of gaseous emissions

Also screaming blasts of hot air and noxious gases this week was the Republican National Convention. However, if I can get just one decent republican, (the kind in the world I grew up with — miss you Daddy) to convince me that’s an inaccurate bias I will take back that last sentence.

Both sides claim we are in an existential crisis if we don’t vote for the correct side.

Fears of global pandemic, death by fire, storm, and flood, loss of food producing agriculture and water, rampant racial and gender injustice, inability to afford healthcare are just some of the fears being sold on the Biden side of history.

On the other side, we have to worry about truly horrifying things: Satanic cannibal, child sex rings — a truly Satanic Hellscape American Miscreant menace, or SHAM, — in my cost-cutting shorthand.

Nor is that even the scariest thing. There are people who want to take all your cows and pigs, and not just for food! Worry too, about poor people moving into your vanilla suburban dream neighborhoods, looting sparked by “false” grievance, or even worse, a terrifying Biden/Harris ticket.

Jokes aside, (Who says God has no sense of humor?), we have plenty to keep us busy through the 2020’s.

It’s all connected, yet it’s not all Q-anon

There are other links between racism, pollution, climate crisis and pandemic. Food is one. Where your food is grown may be a consumption oriented, fossil fuel heavy, herbicidal and pesticidal industrialized farm. Or it may be a part of the world where humanity encroaches steadily upon forest and grasslands with our cattle heavy preference for meat, or say, in the case of some less privileged locales, making a living.

Here too, is food for thought. Those bats and pangolins that brought you COVID 19, to say little about the pigs, chickens and cows, that brought every other major pandemic to swoop in like quiet, gentle coughs of hurricanes, did not voluntarily take themselves to market.

We human beings took them there. And, now, we aren’t even sorry we did because it is easier, and also human, to find scapegoats like China, Immigrants, democrats, and somehow, Obama.

Yet another link is populism. It sounds like what you do to pimples, but what it really is makes a pimple seem delightfully charming.

Pimples are made by youth acne, but only a demagogue can make Nazis.

And, amid the confluence of pandemic, climate crisis, and bigotry, the world seems to be seeing them pop up all over.

Of course, many fine people will tell you such worries are Trumped up nonsense. Fake news. Hoax. Who knows. People are saying.

Let’s hope it’s just an adolescent technology phase: surveillance, unrest, Deepfakes, unmarked vans, spy drones, plus a world stage we’re thrashing about upon, or going through, or something.

Another link is money. We pay plenty to keep oil and gas interests contributing to climate change, killing all the polar bears, promoting racism and poverty, running our toxic government lobbied representatives, destroying arable lands and carbon sinks, and, most of all, keeping all of it quiet — or at the very least, confusingly contradictory.

To this day, Greta Thunberg hasn’t gotten her point across: listen to science. It’s because most people just don’t want to, or can’t afford to, hear it. Climate catastrophe is going to make COVID 19 look like a picnic in rainbow drenched unicorn land with delicious cruelty-free apple pies made by plentiful bees and ice cream from MAGA happy, fart-free cows.

Or to put it another way, we are all going to die.

I know I am but what are you?

Maybe I’m a bit discouraged, lately.

We’re dying. Does that sound pessimistic? It should not. Because we KNOW these things. We, for the first time in history, can change the course of our trajectory. We can have green jobs, media facts, truth and science based education, better health, a fuller diversity-based, race and gender equal society, less stress, and more time.

Then, despite the many links between COVID, Climate, Classic Racism and Sexism, we won’t all die. Just some of us.

That’s just the sad reality. Much like racism, it’s better late than never to come out against it. Confusingly, some people are still FOR it. But this is no time to dither about the woulda, coulda, shoulda, stuff.

Now is the time for all good humans to come to the aid of what’s left of everything.