Consequences in Red

How Decades of Racist Policy Left Neighborhoods Sweltering (Brad Plumer, Nadja Popovich)

There are places like Gilpin all across the United States. In cities like Baltimore, Dallas, Denver, Miami, Portland and New York, neighborhoods that are poorer and have more residents of color can be 5 to 20 degrees Fahrenheit hotter in summer than wealthier, whiter parts of the same city.

And there’s growing evidence that this is no coincidence. In the 20th century, local and federal officials, usually white, enacted policies that reinforced racial segregation in cities and diverted investment away from minority neighborhoods in ways that created large disparities in the urban heat environment.

The consequences are being felt today.

Who’s Out?

The Twisted Racial Politics of Going Outside (s.e. smith)

There are loud echoes of racism and classism in these conversations for obvious reasons: After white people colonize environments, they’re swift to assert themselves as the arbiters of good, respectful behavior in said spaces.

While the stated goal may be to preserve the intrinsic beauty and worth of the wilderness, or to restore damaged land, it comes with loaded expectations about who can use that space and how. These conversations are not only racist, they’re also deeply classist and disablist.

A Problem Avoiding Being Solved

Shell is Looking Forward (Malcolm Harris)

From a certain vantage, the momentum looks almost definitive, as though nothing could stand in the way of a renewable future. But unlike coal, oil and gas companies are still definitely profitable, even investable, and more oil and gas are being produced, and used, every year — which helps explain why carbon emissions keep rising too. There’s little doubt that fossil-fuels are, culturally speaking, on the wrong side of history. But there is still a lot more money to extract from those wells, and the fossil-fuel businesses are intent on extracting as much as they can.

These companies aren’t planning for a future without oil and gas, at least not anytime soon, but they want the public to think of them as part of a climate solution. In reality, they’re a problem trying to avoid being solved.

In the corporate sector, there’s still faith at the top that economic incentives and profit-seeking behavior can manage the crisis that capitalism has wrought. In such thinking, climate change is like a redux of the hole in the ozone layer: potentially bad but solvable with the tools on hand and without real changes to our lifestyles.

Green Concrete

Lawns are an Ecological Disaster (Ian Graber-Stiehl)

“I’ve heard lawns compared to a biological desert,” Windhager said. “That’s really unfair, because deserts can be very diverse places.”

“Continual amputation is a critical part of lawn care. Cutting grass regularly—preventing it from reaching up and flowering — forces it to sprout still more blades, more rhizomes, more roots, to become an ever more impenetrable mat until it is what its owner has worked so hard or paid so much to have: the perfect lawn, the perfect sealant through which nothing else can grow—and the perfect antithesis of an ecological system.” Sara Stein

The Fruit of Genius

Corn Tastes Better on the Honor System

“Western science makes the claim to pure objectivity and intentionally banishes subjectivity from its explanations in favor of reductionist, strictly materialist approaches.”

“What is our relationship to the plant that has quite literally made us?”

“The writings of some early colonists reveal that they thought corn a primitive crop, because it did not require machines or draft animals to cultivate and process, as did their familiar wheat. They mistook the apparent ease with which corn fed the people for a lack of agricultural sophistication, rather than recognizing the genius of the system.”