As the climate crisis continues to worsen, so does our individual and collective anxiety about it. At Earthworks, we are fighting vigorously alongside community advocates, experts and activists to stop fossil fuel expansion and to ensure the clean energy transition is just and equitable. We believe humanity can and must rise to meet this challenge at this moment in time. We believe we must all pull together in order to do so, and that in remaking the world to save ourselves and our ecosystems, we can build something better, more beautiful and just.
At the same time, we see some on the far-right seizing the climate crisis as an opportunity to foment deeply racist and violent division.
Like many of America’s earlier movements, racism was ingrained in the environmental movement since its founding. The first national parks for example, established after the Indigenous genocide, continued to forcibly displace Indigenous people off their tribal lands to create recreational spaces for white men. While protecting landscapes from extraction, conservation success has almost always denied Indigenous peoples their right to land, culture and livelihoods. We recognize and are working to reverse this ugly history, and more must be done. Protecting the rights of nature and protecting the rights of people must go hand-in-hand. When they do not, when it is assumed that some people are disposable, then the seeds are sown for “eco-fascism.”
Eco-fascists invoke environmental concerns or rhetoric as a way to push forward their fascist ideology. One of the ways they do this is by incorrectly arguing that overpopulation is the core cause of the climate crisis and that some groups of people can be sacrificed while others are more deserving of protection. They lift up nationalist and white supremacist worldviews, ideas that are not always easy to see at first. A core tenet of any kind of fascism is the belief that hierarchies are morally correct and some peoples deserve rights while others do not. That kind of belief both contributes to and stems from the idea that humans are superior to the “rest” of nature. Eco-fascism can be used to justify violence against immigrants, refugees, marginalized people of other nations and people of color.
Earthworks strongly, firmly, absolutely opposes this ideology. The fact is that we are in a climate crisis because decisions were made – and continue to be made – that devalue and strip rights and protections of health and safety from communities of color.
Eco-facism is an ideology of hatred. It is from this destructive ideology that gunmen in El Paso, Texas and Buffalo, NY claim inspiration to justify murdering hispanic and Black people in those communities.
Earthworks and our peers in the environmental movement have a responsibility to actively disavow eco-fascism and anyone who advocates it. And we have a responsibility to intentionally unlearn the white supremacy in our history and in our present-day movement. This is our first step to call it out and disavow it directly. This will not be our last.