Climate Hypocrisy

This week, I came across a blog post on the Center for Global Development that highlighted, in stark terms, the vast inequality in energy use, CO2 emissions and ultimately, responsibility for the current climate crisis. Did you know that by January 9th this year, the average American had already emitted more CO2 this year than the average Kenyan would in the whole of 2022? 

In other words, it takes nine days for the average US citizen to emit more CO2 than the average Kenyan does in 365 days. It’s even shorter if you compare US emissions to other African countries – it takes five days for the US citizen to be comparable to the annual emissions of the average Tanzanian, four days for a Ugandan, and just one day for the average citizen of DR Congo. Think about that – in a single day, an American going about their daily life has produced more carbon emissions than a Congolese going about their life for an entire year.

This article published by the BBC connects the dots even more concretely: “Climate change and racism are two of the biggest challenges of the 21st Century. They are also strongly intertwined. There is a stark divide between who has caused climate change and who is suffering its effects…  climate change is a multiplier of all forms of social disadvantage, with divisions along class lines, gender, age, and much else besides.”

In short: “The nations of the Global North have effectively colonized the atmospheric commons. They’ve enriched themselves as a result, but with devastating consequences for the rest of the world and for all of life on Earth.”

We often think of the climate crisis in environmental terms, and so implicitly assume it is something that would affect the entire environment or globe equally, the problem merely exists in the environment, and that we are all in it together. But we’re not, and far from being just in the air, the climate crisis has been created by the powerful are continuing that long trajectory of slavery, colonialism, and racialized capitalism.

In many previous editions of this newsletter, we’ve shared many opportunities for environmental/ climate reporting, which seems to be a niche that attracts quite a bit of funding and publishing opportunities. 

As curator, I am convinced that sharing these opportunities is not all that falls within our docket as Baraza Media Lab – we must urge a framing that doesn’t merely uncritically describe our climate anguishes but instead connects them with the global structural systems that produce these injustices, and the people and decisions responsible for them.

As you apply for the opportunities that we share in our newsletters, read and think critically about the voices and perspectives your work will amplify, the assumptions it might make, and the silences it may inhabit.

In the meantime, here’s:

What We’re Reading: Journalists in Kenya report some of the highest rates of sexual harassment in newsrooms, according to a global media study involving 20 countries. This article by Victoria Amunga details the sexual harassment that women face in the journalism industry. 

What We’re Watching: In this episode of Fake Woke With Justine, the ever witty Justine Wanda brings some levity to the struggle of being a pedestrian in Nairobi.

What We’re Listening To:  Inhabiting Injustice, an episode on The Development Dilemma podcast, where Jim Chuchu speaks powerfully about the problematic intersections of race, travel, labour, power and history in the humanitarian/ development/ “expatriate” community in Kenya. Jim’s take is frank and uninhibited, listen to it and read the wealth of information curated in his show notes here.

As always,

Christine Mungai

Curator | Baraza Media Lab

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