Stop the greening of bigotry – take the pledge today!

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Stop the greening of hate: Video and environmental anti-racism pledge developed by the Center for New Community

Bigotry. That isn’t the first word that comes to mind when one thinks about environmentalism, but green bigotry is real and growing. A web of individuals, groups and funders who identify themselves as environmentalists are dividing the environmental movement and moving it away from solutions that are inclusive of diverse communities.

The good news is we can take a stand against the greening of hate.

We, the undersigned environmental leaders and activists, pledge that:

  • We will embrace diversity and reject racism as we confront the serious environmental challenges before us.
  • We will not adopt the message that immigrants are the cause of environmental problems.
  • We will actively support the human and civil rights of immigrants and refugees.
  • We will solve our environmental problems and the challenges facing our society through the energy, vision, and commitment of all people, regardless of race, ethnicity, or national origin.

We pledge to resist the growing infiltration of our movement by white nationalist forces, including those under the umbrella of the John Tanton Network. Organizations such as the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), NumbersUSA, Progressives for Immigration Reform (PFIR), Californians for Population Stabilization (CAPS), Carrying Capacity Network, Apply the Brakes Network and Negative Population Growth (NPG) are scapegoating immigrants for rising pollution, urban sprawl, carbon emissions and even the BP oil spill as a way to build support among environmentalists for repressive anti-immigrant legislation. Crafted by FAIR, Arizona’s draconian SB 1070 law is the latest example.

There is no place for this greening of hate in our movement. Xenophobia divides us when we need to come together to build a broad and diverse coalition for an equitable, effective energy, resource and climate policy for the United States. Civil and human rights and environmental protection must go hand in hand if we are to find solutions to urgent problems such as the current disaster in the Gulf of Mexico.

We must not be fooled by the racist environmentalism that attacks immigrant communities and that is rooted in fears of overpopulation. The anti-immigrant forces promoting these views claim that by increasing U.S. population growth, immigrants are responsible for the country’s environmental ills. The relationship between population growth and the environment is not just about sheer numbers of people. It is complex, context-specific and contingent on many social, economic and cultural factors. In many areas of the country, urban sprawl is increasing while population is decreasing. The main causes of sprawl are poor land-use planning, zoning regulations, and tax laws.

Over the last 60 years, the rise in U.S. carbon emissions has fast outpaced population growth. It is not individual consumption that is the main driver of emissions, but wasteful, fossil-fuel based industrial, energy, and transport systems. Yet FAIR and others argue it is immigrants who are to blame–people who should stay put and stay poor in their home countries where they consume less energy than if they lived in the U.S.

This environmentalism represents a new and dangerous form of eco-politics. It is an eco-politics that acknowledges energy constraints, resource depletion, and climate change as scientific phenomena, but its response — to keep out immigrants — denies the possibility of effective solutions. Border fences, racial profiling, and mandatory identity cards will not cap carbon or prevent oil spills. Nor will they bring about the necessary transition to renewable energy and a green economy. Instead, this version of environmentalism desperately wants to promote an American dream of unlimited consumption— for whites only.

There is a need for a new American dream founded on the principles of sustainability, opportunity, and fairness.

This vision acknowledges that immigrants and refugees amongst us are also spearheading movements for ecological and economic renewal. Rather than our adversaries in the fight for environmental sustainability, these are our allies, co-workers, friends and colleagues. We will not stand by while they are targeted and attacked by white nationalist forces simply because these forces name themselves as environmentalists.

The urgency of the climate crisis means there is no time to lose. It is time to say a resounding NO to the greening of hate and a resounding YES to the building of a democratic and diverse environmental movement.


  • Reality is that neither one of you are wrong. I suspect Cory doesn’t let industry off the hook, even though her initial comment appears to do so, to an extent, just as Jeff’s comment seems to let consumers off the hook.

    Neither mode operates in a vacuum: if we did not purchase water in bottles, neither the plastic nor the resource would be manufactured. If we had the collective sensibility to not buy brooms with plastic handles (or any brooms), there would be no manufacture of those brooms.

    And if industry had the collective sensibility to not manufacture dumb stuff, we wouldn’t have the ability to buy it.

    Consumption of any sort, by entity or individual, most certainly is a core component to the problem.

    Why don’t we issue a statement dictating how we will not allow corporations and industry to manipulate the environmental movement. Green corporatists are a source of influence far more directly connected to problem and solution sets (and clearly far more capable of splitting the movement, thanks Nature Conservancy) in Climate Change than any anti-immigrant node will be.

    It is my opinion that this effort is just another pat on our own backs when in reality we are unable or unwilling to tackle the actual problem of Climate Change. So I may sign the petition, because it will probably just feel so darn good!

    Just leave my leaf blower out of this 😉

  • Jeff commits the common fallacy of assuming the name ‘Cory’ refers to a man. I am female.

    I’m very open to expanding/ building upon my knowledge and challenging my own opinions – so I’m quite open to your comments & appreciate you taking the time to respond.

    I absolutely do not believe that all consumption is done personally by individuals. I agree that the emissions are that of countries/economies – I just find it simplistic to exonerate the role of consumption by individuals. (My comment was also very simplistic) I’ve stated above that I believe that the capitalist system is the root cause of climate change – I understand & agree about the capitalist production. I see production and consumption functioning in a symbiotic relationship.

    I do not in any way view homogenize the world’s population in a homogenized view of a undifferentiated mass of “consumers”. Again, I believe that the capitalist system IS the culprit – I am just stating that in my opinion – “individual consumption” cannot be so easily diminished or downplayed.

    It is true that consumers don’t control the kinds of technology that are used in the production of the goods they consume; and it’s the choice of technology that largely determines the levels of consumption of natural resources and generation of waste – yet I do not see people refraining from filling their homes to the rafters with these items, or doing much to change these problems. The way these items are produced/ the technology, etc. is of little concern to most Canadians. In general, the far more greater concern for most – is making certain that they are able to purchase as many of these items as possible. I hate to even say this – but this is what I see.

    I agree with everything you state regarding the technological changes – I agree it is incredibly important that this is recognized and understood. I also appreciate the stat you provided as I find this most interesting. I’m not saying the stat is incorrect – I am saying that what I see in real life doesn’t convince me. The vast majority of people I know, and the people I see (in the city where I reside) are insatiable consumers. No matter how efficient & non wasteful systems / technologies / production is – I do not believe if we were to succeed in perfecting this efficiency – that this could fix our crisis, without dealing at least, equally, with the current rate of consumption I consider complete gluttony. Most of it being done by societies with quite a broad understanding of the damage they are contributing to(exploitation of people & planet)every time they purchase such a product – but the ethical concerns are virtually non-existent and not really slowing this massive shopping binge down a bit. I don’t see the masses separating their wants from their needs.

    For instance, the livestock – even with ‘efficient’& ‘non wasteful’ production systems, etc. – how can the MASSIVE volume of meat that wealthy countries (people) are now consuming continue if we are to reach virtual zero emissions? Try to talk to average people about eating less meat (let alone transition to a plant based diet) … and you may get a limb ripped off as wealthy countries (people) have been convinced it is their RIGHT to consume as much as they like. Regardless environmental degradation, climate crisis, etc. I’m unsure what the stats are for meat consumption – I am interested if your stats show that the same amount of food consumption. If consumption of food has not skyrocketed – why such an epidemic of obesity? Would the same argument apply? That the food intake is the same per capita (1946) – but the industrialized food production has pushed the system to its limits and it is the processed food that is causing the obesity? If so, people’s grocery carts in my city are filled to the brim with the garbage food – even though there is a choice to eat ‘real’ food if one wants to/ chooses to (recognizing when I say ‘real’ food I means separate from the industrialized food system & not everyone can afford this). However, even between 1- an industrialized bunch of broccoli or whatever and 2- an industrialized processed pre-made/ pre-packed food item – full of nitrates, chemicals, etc. etc. – many (maybe even most)choose to buy #2.

    In my opinion, it’s not only that the broomstick handle that is composed of plastic, chemicals, massive wasted energy etc. – it is also that society today no longer wants / chooses to have only just the broom. Now we have the central vac /a vacuum, the bags for the vacuum, the leaf vacuum for sucking up leaves outside, the swifter, the ‘dustbunny’ for the corners, the floor cleaners, shiners, waxes & on & on it goes.

    Anyway, thank you Jeff (& Ian) for your comments – more to contemplate. As I said – I only felt that the statement more or less exonerated consumerism – and your comments confirm it basically does. I’m still not convinced it plays such little significance – but then again – maybe I’m just too cynical – and that is definitely possible at this point.

    Thanks again.

  • Cory Morningstar commits the common fallacy of assuming that all “consumption” is done personally by individuals. He therefore misconstrues statistics like “the wealthiest 15% emit 75% of all emissions” as referring to the consumption of commodities by individuals, when what it really means is that the wealthiest countries/economies are responsible for 75% of worldwide anthropogenic emissions. The vast majority of those emissions are caused by the capitalist mode of production and distribution – tar sands, oil refineries, industrialized agriculture, cement manufacturing, truck transport, etc. This is what the authors of the above statement point out when they say, “It is not individual consumption that is the main driver of emissions, but wasteful, fossil-fuel based industrial, energy, and transport systems.”

    If greenhouse gas emissions were largely a function of personal consumption, then we would not have seen emissions rise at a rate many times the rate of population increase. Putting primary blame on individual consumers in advanced capitalist countries for “massive overconsumption” only helps feed into the illogic of limiting immigration and advancing population reduction as primary strategies to reduce emissions. “People”, as such, are not the problem.

    Nor do individual “consumers” drive the level of consumption of natural resources and the output of waste and emissions in the economy as a whole. Concepts like “Earth Overshoot Day”, invented by eco-capitalists, are commonly used to homogenize the world’s population into an undifferentiated mass of “consumers”, and make “individual consumption” the culprit in ecological destruction. This kind of thinking obscures the social and economic class factors at work, and has nothing in common with eco- or any other kind of socialism.

    Consumers don’t control the kinds of technology that are used in the production of the goods they consume; and it’s the choice of technology that largely determines the levels of consumption of natural resources and generation of waste.

    Ecologist Barry Commoner has described how rapid technological changes in the production of goods in the United States after World War Two had enormous environmental consequences. The proliferation of synthetic materials like plastics and other petrochemical materials in the manufacture of consumer goods, as well as other things like the displacement of building materials such as steel and lumber by aluminum (which requires vastly more energy to produce), have resulted in production methods that consume enormous quantities of fossil fuels, energy, and other natural resources, and create vastly more emissions and waste:

    “The technology factor – that is, the increased output of pollutants per unit production resulting from the introduction of new productive technologies since 1946 – accounts for about 95 per cent of the total output of pollutants [Commoner later admitted that his calculations more correctly supported a figure of 80 to 85 per cent – still a formidable majority]…The chief reason for the environmental crisis that has engulfed the United States in recent years is the sweeping transformation of productive technology since World War II. The economy has grown enough to give the United States population about the same amount of basic goods, per capita, as it did in 1946. However, productive technologies with intense impacts on the environment have displaced less destructive ones. The environmental crisis is the inevitable result of this counterecological pattern of growth.” (The Closing Circle, 1971, pp. 176-7) [My emphasis, to show that individual per capita consumption of consumer goods did not increase during the period in question.]

    The reason why these technologies were introduced, as Commoner points out, is that they increased the profits of the producers. It was not that consumers were demanding plastic broom handles instead of wooden ones; it was a matter of the manufacturers choosing to use cheaper (to them) materials and externalizing the environmental cost of these new materials onto society as a whole.

  • Some quick thoughts & comments:

    I question the statement within the document:

    “It is not individual consumption that is the main driver of emissions, but wasteful, fossil-fuel based industrial, energy, and transport systems.”

    I appreciate the intent of the document – but especially as a document written that has been created in the United States – this statement seems to reflect a component of denialism. Capitalism is the root cause and main driver of climate change and today it is dependent upon ongoing consumption to keep it intact.

    Considering we reached Earth overshoot day in August of this year – it would seem obvious that individual consumption cannot be dismissed as anything less than a massive problem. Waste and lack of conservation, although certainly a massive problem and should be mentioned, is not, in my opinion, the main driver of climate change. On a side note – livestock emissions are reported to contribute between 18% (United Nations) & 51% (WorldWatch Institute) – a direct result of individual consumption.

    Furthermore, the wealthiest 15% emit 75% of all emissions. The wealthiest in the United States, Canada, etc. are super consumers. North America has achieved and promoted mass addiction of commodities and material wealth as the new religion on the world stage. Now – all over the world we see nations wishing to emulate this illusion of ‘happiness & prosperity’ It’s a disease that is effectively killing us.

    I feel that this specific statement basically excuses individuals of wealthy countries from their massive over-consumption and in effect lets the wealthy countries, who have contributed the most to climate change off the hook. This sentence reads to me as ‘if we only conserve’ – the crisis would be on the way to recovery. I would like this sentence re-worded if the authors see fit. We all know we have to reach ZERO fossil fuel emissions and fast if we are to stabilize the planet and save humanity.

  • Another problem is speciesism: discrimination against other species, which is as morally reprehensible as racism and for the same reasons.