In the last years of his life, Dr. Martin Luther King spoke against what he called “the triple evils that are interrelated” – economic inequality, racism, and militarism. If King were alive today, he’d be talking about the five evils that are interrelated, adding patriarchy and Ecocide, the destruction of livable ecology. He’d also be noting the dangerous rise of a new national and global fascism linked to the presidency of a malignant racist who glories in accelerating humanity’s environmental self-destruction while the media obsesses over matters of far slighter relevance.
I was given three questions to answer today. The first question runs as follows: “How have you as a historian mapped the trajectory of Climate Change over time? What do we have to worry about right now?”
Let me say as politely as I can that I don’t like the phrase “Climate Change.” It’s too mild. Try Climate Catastrophe. If a giant oak tree is about to collapse on to your little house, you don’t say that you are risk of housing change. You say “holy shit we’re about to die and we better do something fast.”
I haven’t really tracked climate change as an historian. I am an urban and labor historian, not an environmental one. The climate issue really started being noticeable to me with the often-forgotten Chicago heat wave of July 1995, when hundreds of people, very disproportionately Black, died.
I rely on climate scientists…