State of the Planet

News from the Columbia Climate School

GlacierHub Statement Condemning Systemic Racism and Police Brutality

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Like our colleagues at the Earth Institute, we at GlacierHub are dismayed and disturbed by the senseless killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery and the tragically large number of other African Americans murdered by the police and by others outside of law enforcement. These murders reveal the workings of a larger system of racism and oppression in the United States, which also lead to great disparities in life expectancy, health status, and other forms of well-being. This same system of levers and pulleys that was set up generations ago to benefit white people has also caused human-induced climate change.

With this inequity so strongly in view at present, we at GlacierHub believe that limiting the study and discussion of climate change to physical processes and measurements is missing the point. Yes—to take one example—measuring ice mass loss is an important element of understanding global warming and its impacts on glaciers, on watersheds, on agriculture and hydropower. But such work is grossly deficient on its own. Without movement to a genuinely equitable society, such narrow efforts can at most offer a mere technical adjustment, not a solution. There is no sustainable development without climate justice. And there is no climate justice without social and racial justice.

To take one concrete step in this direction, we are expanding our coverage of the mountain communities living near glaciers, especially the indigenous and nomadic communities who are often ignored, marginalized or persecuted. We are keenly aware that these forces operating in mountain regions are directly analogous to the racism that enables the murders of African Americans in the U.S.

By presenting the efforts, movements, and struggles of these communities, we affirm our participation in the movement to bring climate justice. We stand firm in our solidarity with nonviolent protesters and those who fight against all manner of racism, xenophobia and police brutality, whether that be Black Lives Matter in the U.S. or similar struggles the world over.

Banner featuring a collage of extreme heat images.

Recent record-breaking heat waves have affected communities across the world. The Extreme Heat Workshop will bring together researchers and practitioners to advance the state of knowledge, identify community needs, and develop a framework for evaluating risks with a focus on climate justice. Register by June 15

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4 years ago

very glad to see glacier hub taking this stand and bringing into view the bigger picture of racial and social justice as inherent to climate justice.