Climate change affects literally everyone. No good progressive doubts that it’s the most important issue facing the world. Climate change, the oppressor. Humanity, the oppressed. But what many don’t realize is that existing systems of oppression drive climate change. And those who contribute the least to climate change are the first to feel its effects.
For years, study after study has found that poor people and people of color are affected most and first by climate change. A 2009 study by the University of Southern California found that blacks residents of Los Angeles are twice as likely to die during a heat wave as others. This spring a University of Minnesota study found that people of color are exposed to 38 percent more air pollution than white people. According to the study, 7,000 fewer people of color would die every year if they breathed the lower amount of nitrogen dioxide that white people breathe.
Not only did a United Nations climate panel say that “People who are socially, economically, culturally, politically, institutionally or otherwise marginalised are especially vulnerable to climate change,” but also it found that climate change makes it harder for “developing” countries to climb out of poverty.