Where Climate Change Meets Social Inequality

by Breanna Sewell

Author Phoebe Godfrey uses her paper, “Race, Gender & Class, and Climate Change” (2012) to address the potential sociological outcomes of global climate change, specifically in regard to the intersection and overlapping effects of the social constructs, race, gender, and class. She begins her article by denying the validity of the argument that global climate change may or may not exist and diverts the reader’s attention to the sociological effects of climate change; first admitting that, regrettably, environmental sociologists have only in recent years turned their attention to climate change, and then asserting her opinion that the “complementary and contradictory intersections” of race, gender, and class are present everywhere and their importance is underestimated.

Godfrey mentions an article with a similar subject in order to call attention to the specifics of her debate. The second author makes a call to action, requesting that “we” realize the importance of sociological inequalities in correspondence with global climate change. This “we” is what is in question by Godfrey. She asserts that correctly defining “we” is crucial to understanding the complicated relationship between the intersection of sociology and climate change.

In the first scenario, if “we” is meant to mean the world’s entire human population, then, Godfrey argues, fate will be in the hands of the “white elite of the Global North.” There will be a great divide in the lifestyle of those of different classes, and living in a green utopia will be entirely dependent upon your social privilege, or lack thereof.

The second scenario, if “we” is meant to mean those who are ready to live sustainably and take action against global climate change, Godfrey argues, that there is no “we” until more of us are ready to address the overlap of environmentalism with sociology.

Godfrey does not see a positive future in regards to global climate change until social inequalities are addressed, due to their inextricable connection to both how we see ourselves in relation to other people and also the causes and effects of global climate change.

Godfrey, P., 2012. Introduction: Race, Gender & Class and Climate Change. Race, Gender & Class. http://search.proquest.com/docview/1269656821?accountid=10141



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