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Climate Change Is Violence


Climate Change Is Violence

Rebecca Solnit

The following post, by writer, historian, and activist Rebecca Solnit, is an essay that appears in her new anthology The Encyclopedia of Trouble and Spaciousness, out this year from Trinity University Press.

If you’re poor, the only way you’re likely to injure someone is the old traditional way: artisanal violence, we could call it— by hands, by knife, by club, or maybe modern hands-on violence, by gun or by car.


Climate change is not violence. Climate change is an outcome of violence.

The extractive, colonizing, profiteering, oil / automobile / industrial ag / war economy is violence. One outcome of this massive organized violence is disruption to the Earth's climate system. Is dis-integration of the Earth's ecology "violence" or the result of violence? Is mass extinction "violence" or the result of violence? Is climate chaos "violence" or the result of violence?

The economy is built on violence. Calling climate change "violence" separates the violence from the bloody hands of the perpetrators.


Yet another article on climate change that rants about everything but the elephant in the room. Meat-consumption produces half of all greenhouse gases yet that salient fact continues to be ignored by writers who blame everything except themselves. Why no call for reduction of meat consumption? What write so much and fail to say what's important? And has this writer noticed that killing young, healthy animals requires violence?


If you want to write that article then go ahead. Solnit didn't address any cause of climate change in this short article directly. But of course, you can ignore all the points she actually did make and disparage her as a writer because she didn't make the point you wanted her to. And I'm sure you think that has nothing to do with your own ego.

On another topic, why is this labeled copyright Naomi Klein 2014?


How do you calculate that meat production and consumption accounts for 50% of all greenhouse gases? I do NOT doubt that it is a contributing factor, but HOW does it add up to 50% of greenhouse warming?


Would you agree to a "three-some"?

How about:

  1. Meat-eating
  2. Militarism
  3. Materialism

Call it 3-M.

That's easy enough to remember. The average person can stop--or cut back on their meat consumption and reduce their materialism. I buy almost everything (apart from food) from consignment shops. And judging by the growth of these, others are obviously catching on.

There is a lot of STUFF in our world.

As a matter of fact, the knowledge that entire malls are abandoned while new malls are built; or that many homes remain vacant/foreclosed with new ones being built calls out for a moratorium:

Let no new shopping center or homes be built until existing ones are full!

When an individual FIXATES on one causative agency, they miss a great deal. Hence my idea for something simple to remember--3-M.


You are correct, but the violence is based in patriarchy. The way the Earth Mother is regarded--as thing to use, abuse, exploit, discard, and even rape--is the way too many males view females.

And this is hardly my thesis, alone.

Riane Eisler talks about what the cessation of Partnership Culture meant to the rising emphasis on militarism along with societies based upon top-down ranking systems. THAT, too, is violence.

Dr. Helen Caldicott sees it.

And the understanding is integral to the Indigenous tribes throughout South America and demonstrated in their great respect for Pacha-Mama, the earth mother.

While in Peru some years ago I sat in on a lecture that specifically called out the out-of-balance focus on things macho and masculine in Western (particularly, American) culture.

There is a direct relationship between how the natural world is treated and how the Feminine side of "the force" is regarded.


Ignomonies of scale


I saw a percentage for animal agriculture recently and it was estimated at 9%. Here is the page: http://www3.epa.gov/climatechange/ghgemissions/sources.html


This helpful 2013 story by the Guardian said the global emissions number was 14.5% (still significant): http://www.theguardian.com/environment/world-on-a-plate/2013/sep/27/environment-food-ipcc-emissions-greenhouse-gas-livestock-vegetarian-meat


Ok, last one. Here's another good current story on the 14.5%: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/energy-environment/wp/2015/11/18/james-cameron-wants-you-to-fight-global-warming-by-changing-what-you-eat/


"The patriarchal, extractive, colonizing, profiteering, oil / automobile / industrial ag / war economy is violence."


Eating less meat is a beneficial dietary switch for most of the US, but how are you gonna get all those hundreds of millions Indians to give up their practice of Hinduism and the wandering cattle that they regard as sacred?
Then when you solve that problem, how are you gonna disappear all those methane producing land fills where humanity dumps all of its moldering garbage?

An homage to the humble bean which is also a potent source of methane generation.

Beans, beans, good for the heart,
The more you eat, the more you fart!
The more you fart, the better you feel,
So eat your beans at every meal!

Reading Rebecca Solnit is bad for your mind unless you want it to become a blob of silly putty!


See the movie Cowspiracy. Scientists say that the animal slaughter industry is responsible for 51% of all greenhouse gas emissions.


I agree. Still, meat-eating accounts for 51% of all greenhouse gas emissions so it is clearly the number one problem. The military is probably responsible for most of the remaining 49%.


I guess you are trying to be funny. However, the number of wandering cattle in India is very small. There are about 10 billion cattle in the United States so most of the methane is produced here in the US, not India. If Americans would stop eating meat, the amount of methane in the atmosphere would drop substantially.


Scientist say that the number is 51%, not 9%. If you are willing to accept the meat industry's figures, go right ahead. However, I have much more faith in the scientists who are quoted in the movie Cowspiracy.


Your comment makes no sense. I did not disparage the writer, nor did I complain that she did not make a point I think she should have made. I said that this article is very typical of articles published in the mainstream press. By discussing climate change without mentioning the number one cause of climate change, all of such articles are misleading the public. Your eagerness to accuse me of disparaging a writer is unfair, as is your accusation that I was complaining that the article did not mention a point that I personally thought should have been pointed out. You are essentially accusing me of being very picky and complaining that one particular point that could have been brought out was not brought out. That is utter nonsense. I simply pointed out that the number one problem behind climate change was not pointed out. That is not being picky nor does it disparage the author in anyway. My intention is to disparage the mainstream press in general for discussing climate change repeatedly while repeatedly ignoring the number one cause of climate change, but I guess that just blew right over your head. I can only assume that you are a meat eater and you are not interested in hearing the truth. Instead, you want to attack the messenger every chance you get, even when the grounds therefor are frivolous.


The number actually varies widely (zenpractice's claim that it is 51% would certainly represent the far end of the estimates).

The EPA's estimate, I believe, accounts only for the fossil fuels expended in the actual act of growing/harvesting crops. When researchers have factored in the entire agricultural industry (ie, the production of fertilizer, transportation, storage, etc) the figure ranges from around 20%-30%. Of course, a great deal of that is methane which is much more impactful in the short term than CO2; not sure how much that affects the variability of the estimates.

I haven't seen cowspiracy, but 50% seems high to me. I'm a vegan and there are a ton of reasons for not supporting the horror which is the meat industry, and climate change is definitely a big one. But yeah, I doubt it's 50% of GHG.


The view that agriculture is the top contributor to climate change is, to say the least, a fringe view. Most estimates seem to peg it at around 20-30%. That is certainly a big deal, but I have a hard time buying that it's the number one cause at anywhere near 51%. And I am a vegan and have been a vegetarian since I was a teenager, which is maybe a lesson for you on making assumptions. That 70% of land use in agriculture goes towards raising cattle etc is both an ethical and an ecological disaster, but that doesn't take away from the point which Solnit is making which is about another form of violence which is deserving of attention.

Anyways, I apologize if I misrepresented your remarks. But if you are claiming that Solnit is a representative of the mainstream press (which seems silly) and claiming that you ARE disparaging the mainstream press... well, there you go I guess. I haven't seen cowspiracy but I would recommend that you do some research outside the context of that one film.